Durga Ashtami Vrat 2021
Durga Ashtami vrat is an important Hindu ritual dedicated to Goddess Shakti (Goddess Durga). Masik Durga Ashtami is a monthly event observed on the Ashtami tithi (8th day) of the Shukla paksha (bright lunar fortnight) of every month on the Hindu calendar.
Of all Durga Ashtami days, the Shukla paksha Ashtami of Ashwin month is the most popular and is called Maha Ashtami or simply Durgashtami. Durga Ashtami falls during the last 5 days of the 9 days long Navratri festival. Durgashtami during Durga puja 2021 is on October 13, Wednesday.
On this day the weapons of Goddess Durga are worshiped and the celebration is known as ‘Astra Puja’. This day is also popularly referred to as ‘Virashtami’ owing to the display of arms and other forms of martial arts. Hindu devotees offer prayers to Goddess Durga and keep a strict fast to seek Her divine blessings.
Durga Ashtami Vrat is observed with complete devotion in the northern and western regions of India. In some regions of Andhra Pradesh, Durga Ashtami is celebrated as ‘Bathukamma Panduga’. Durga Ashtami Vrat is a significant observance for followers of Hinduism.
Rituals during Durga Ashtami Vrat
On the day of Durga Ashtami, devotees pray to Goddess Durga. They get up early in the morning and make several offerings to Goddess in the form of flowers, Chandan, and dhoop. In some places, Kumari Puja is also performed on the day of Durga Ashtami Vrat. Hindus worship girls aged between 6-12 years as the Kanya (virgin) form of Goddess Durga. Special ‘Naivedyam’ is prepared for offering to the Goddess.
Fasting is an important ritual of the day. the observer of Durga Ashtami Vrat abstains from eating or drinking all through the day. the fast is observed by men and women alike. the Durga Ashtami Vrat is observed to acquire spiritual gains and seek the blessings of Goddess Durga. Some devotees keep the fast by drinking only milk or eating fruits. Consuming non-vegetarian food and alcohol is strictly prohibited on this day. the observer of the Durga Ashtami Vrat must sleep on the floor and keep away from the comforts and luxuries.
In some regions of western India, there is also a custom of sowing barley seeds. After the seeds reach a height of 3-5 inches they are offered to the Goddess and later distributed among all family members.
Devotees chant various Devi mantras on this day. It is also considered rewarding to read Durga Chalisa on this day. At the end of puja, devotees also read the Durga Ashtami Vrat Katha.
Hindu devotees provide food and Santarpana or Dakshina to Brahmins after completing the puja rituals.
The observer of Durga Ashtami Vrat visits Shakti temples in the evening. Special pujas are conducted on the day of Maha Ashtami that is witnessed by thousands of devotees.
Significance of Durga Ashtami Vrat
In the Sanskrit language the word ‘Durga means ‘undefeatable’ and ‘Ashtami signifies ‘eight days’. According to the Hindu legends, the fierce and powerful form of Goddess Durga, known as ‘Goddess Bhadrakali’ was incarnated. The day of Durga Ashtami is celebrated as the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon named ‘Mahishasura’. It is believed that one who observes the Durga Ashtami Vrat with full dedication will be bestowed with happiness and good fortune in their lives.