Durga Astami and Sandhi Puja
Frinds, Durga Ashtami is thought to be among the most auspicious days of the year. This year Durga Ashtami falls on today, 22nd October. It is basically the 8th day of Durga Navratri. This festival is celebrated all over India with differed rituals and practices. This festival is celebrated as a victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. The devotees of Durga ask for her blessings and offer prayers on Durga Ashtami.Devotees of Durga observe a fast on Maha Astami and break the fast only after ‘Pushpanjali’ (pray with flower after Ma Durga). We celebrate the day after prayer with ‘Luchi’ (puffed flat Indian bread) and varieties of curry after fasting.
|Menu of Astami|
Kumari Puja or Kanya (girl) Puja also take place on the day of Maha Ashtami. People carry out puja for seven young girls on this day. Girls are treated as goddess and are offered food like ‘puri-halwa’ along with gifts or money. People take blessings by washing and touching the feet of young girls.
An integral and important part of Durga Puja, Sandhi Puja is performed at the juncture of the Astami and Navami (8th and 9th lunar day). Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Navami. During this juncture (the "Sandhikhan"), Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form. Devi Durga killed Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at "Sandhikhan" and thus acquired the name of "Chamunda".
While the Goddess and Mahishasura were engaged in a fierce battle, the two generals of Mahisha, Chando and Mundo attacked the Devi from the rear. Durga appeared to them, a brilliantly glowing woman with her hair knotted on her head, a crescent moon above her forehead, a 'tilak' on her forehead and a garland around her neck. With golden earrings and clad in a yellow saree she emitted a golden glow. Her ten hands possessed ten different weapons. Though she appeared beautiful her face turned blue with anger when she faced Chondo and Mundo. From her third eye then emerged a Devi with a large falchion and a shield. She had a large face, bloody tongue and sunken blood shot eyes. She was Chamunda. With a blood curdling shriek she leapt forward and killed them. This moment was the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day.