Durga Ashtami Puja is observed in many parts of India mainly in Tripura, West Bengal,
Orissa, Jharkhand and other eastern parts of India. The day is
considered significant as life is “breathed” into the idol of Durga by
priests who perform elaborate rituals amidst chanting of religious
verses.
 

The devotees of Goddess Durga start the celebrations on the morning of Maha Ashtami with Pushpanjali. Devotees perform the ritualistic bathing and fasting before offering Pushpanjali. Fresh flowers are held in hand and the mantra is recited after the priest. After reciting the Sanskrit couplets everyone showers flowers at the Goddess’s feet.

The worship of little girls, called ‘kumari puja, is the main attraction
of the day. Kumari Puja is the puja where in a young girl, within age
12-13 is worshipped, as the young girl representation of Devi Durga.
Yoginis (the companions of Devi Durga) are worshiped on this day. The
nine manifestation of the Goddess- Durga, Jayanti, Mangola Kali, Bhadra
Kali, Kapalini, Kshama Dhatri, Siva, Svaha and Svadha are worshiped.
 

Evening
Aarati is performed with fire. The fire symbolizes light and is the
purifier of sins. In the evening, Sandhi puja is conducted, which marks
the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami with Maha Navami. It is performed
at the end of Durga Ashtami and the beginning of Maha Navami. Sandhi
Puja is one of the most important ritual during Durga Ashtami-Durga
Puja. The 48 minutes interval or Sandhi when Ashtami Tithi transits into
Navami is highly sacred. Half of it falls in Ashtami and another half
in Navami. At this time Durga is worshiped as Chamunda (a form of Kali
who killed the demon Chand and Munda).

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