What is Maha Ashtami?
During the celebrations of Navratri and Durga Puja, people consider the day known as Maha Ashtami, also known as Ashtami and Durgashtami, as one of the most auspicious days. Throughout the country, celebrations of Maha Ashtami, often referred to as Ashtami, take place with great fervour.
Devotees dedicate this joyous day to Maa Mahagauri, who is an incarnation of Maa Durga and one of the nine different forms collectively known as the Navdurgas. Many people who celebrate Durga Puja also refer to Maha Ashtami as Durgashtami.
Throughout the ongoing celebrations, today is among the most significant days. They also perform Kanya/Kumari Puja or Kanjak on Maha Ashtami. Penitence was how Mahagauri, a figure from Hindu mythology, achieved the status of Gaur Varna.
We can interpret the word “Mahagauri” to mean “the one extraordinarily dazzling.” She climbs up on top of the ox.
Maha Ashtami: Mahagauri Mata Legends
People honour Maa Mahagauri, the eighth incarnation of Maa Durga, on the eighth day of the Navratri festival, which is also known as Maha Ashtami. To gain Lord Shiva in the Himalayan wilderness, Parvati had to perform a difficult ritual.
As a result, she obtained a black complexion. Once Lord Shiva acknowledged the enormous devotion that Parvati had shown to him, he restored her beautiful appearance by bathing her in the waters of the Ganges and washing her body. Devotees gave her the name “Maha Gauri,” which signifies “very white,”. And she became prominent as Mahadev’s consort.
Her name translates to “extremely white” (Lord Shiva). Her beauty shines like glittering white crystal, and she exudes brightness, tranquility, and calmness. Thus she is revered on the day of Maha Ashtami.
There is also a mythology that talks about Shumbha and Nishumbha. By a particularly vicious manifestation of Parvati, these demons can vanquish.
Soon after, Lord Shiva darkened Parvati’s complexion, but she took offense to this change. In later years, she offered prayers to Brahma in the hopes of restoring her natural skin. Brahma, satisfied with her self-denial, suggested that she take a bath in the holy lake of Mansarovar, which is located in the Himalayas.
Mahagauri : The Legend
She is surprised when she sees that her black skin peels off while washing in the bathtub. The skin took on the appearance of a deity known as Kaushiki, and she was a female. As a direct consequence of this, Parvati attained her form, which was flawlessly virtuous and snow-white.
She hands over the original white form to Kaushika so that it can be put to use for the slaying of demons and then she takes the shape of Kali once again. This instance signifies Mahagauri’s vigor and valor, which increases her worshipping on the day of Maha Ashtami.
After receiving her abilities from Lakshmi and Saraswati, Kali assumed the shape of Chandi and proceeded to slay a demon by the name of Dhumralochan. Later, from her third eye, a goddess materialized who was known as Chamunda.
Chamunda was the one who slew Chanda and Munda. After then, Chandi transformed herself into Kaalratri to slay Raktabija. Once all of the demons were slain, Chandi, Chamunda, Kali, and Kaushiki merged with Parvati to become a single entity.
Because of this, people started referring to her as Mahagauri.
Lord of Maha Ashtami
The festival of Maha Ashtami commemorates the triumph of the Hindu goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura. According to a myth, Lord Brahma had granted Mahisasura a blessing that made it impossible for any other person to vanquish it, thus requiring the intervention of a female warrior.
In the aftermath of Lord Indra’s defeat on the battlefield, the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva produced Durga. Every portion of her body was endowed with the vigor and might of a different male deity, giving her the ability to defeat any adversary.
On this day of Maha Ashtami, Mahagauri defeated Mahisasura with her trident by employing weapons that reflected their masculine might. Specifically, she used their swords.
On the occasion of Maha Ashtami, women typically take the spotlight, which serves as a harsh reminder that in ancient India, women formerly held a great deal more authority and position than they do now. The following are only a few of the many myths that are connected to this festival:
Lord of Maha Ashtami
In several regions of the nation, namely West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam, temples are the locations where rituals involving the sacrifice of animals take place to celebrate the event of Maha Ashtami.
On the day of Maha Ashtami, people in South India worship objects such as computers, automobiles, books, and other pieces of work equipment as a way to express appreciation for the benefits received in the preceding year. One commits to God to treat all of their jobs as worship when they give God the instruments they use in their profession.
On the day of Maha Ashtami, before breaking the fast, nine little girls under the age of ten are honored. They are lavishly fed and given new clothing and other gifts as part of this ceremony.
Significance of Maha Ashtami
The eighth day of Navratri coincides with Maha Ashtami, which is the third day of Durga Puja. As a celebration, people consider it to be one of the most significant days, commemorating the triumph of the good goddess Shakti over the malevolent buffalo demon Mahishasura.
On this particular day of Maha Ashtami, followers of Durga Maa pay homage to her eighth incarnation, Maa Mahagauri. The Goddess blesses her worshippers with prosperity and an extravagant way of life as a reward for their devotion to her.
In addition, praying to Maa Durga on this day can assist devotees in overcoming all of their difficulties and freeing themselves from the repercussions of their sins. People observe fast on Ashtami to bring wealth and good fortune.
Celebrations and Rituals Performed on Maha Ashtami
On the day of Maha Ashtami, the festivities start with Mahasnan, which is a big bath to cleanse oneself of one’s impurities. After performing this rite, followers place nine tiny pots to call upon the nine Shaktis that Durga associates with herself.
The Maha Ashtami Puja culminates with the adoration of all nine manifestations of the deity. In addition, devotees actively wear brand-new attire to the ritual and present Maa Mahagauri with yellow flowers, halwa, puri, and black chickpeas as part of their offerings.
In addition, people actively perform the illustrious Sandhi Puja on Maha Ashtami. During Durga Puja, people refer to this time as Sandhi time or Kala, and they consider it a sacred moment.
At the Sandhi Kala festival, it is usual to sacrifice 108 animals, light 108 clay lamps, and execute the validation ritual. Individuals who choose not to participate in this rite have the option of performing a symbolic valid with a banana, cucumber, or pumpkin instead.
Kanya/Kumari Puja (Kanjak)
Ultimately, on Maha Ashtami, worshippers of Goddess Durga do Kanya/Kumari Puja or Kanjak by worshipping young unmarried ladies. People regard them as heavenly incarnations of the Goddess Shakti, and during Navratri, they actively honor them with special offerings prepared especially for the occasion.
During this observance, worshippers wash the feet of the deities, present them with red dupattas, bangles, and a few other gifts as expressions of thanks, and then seek the deities’ blessings.
Maha Ashtami 2023
Maha Ashtami will fall on 22 October this year. Make it a point to go to a nearby Shiva temple at midnight to participate in a midnight puja and absorb all of the great vibratory energy that is present there. This is a chance that won’t come around again in your lifetime.
On the auspicious day of Maha Ashtami, people in South India actively engage in worshipping various objects such as computers, automobiles, books, and other pieces of work equipment. This ritual serves as a profound expression of gratitude for the benefits received in the preceding year.
Maha Ashtami holds great significance as devotees honor and appreciates the blessings bestowed upon them. The vibrant celebrations and fervent devotion witnessed throughout the country further emphasize the sacredness of this day. It is a time of joy and devotion as people come together to honor the divine and seek blessings for prosperity and success.
Maha Ashtami encapsulates the essence of gratitude, faith, and devotion, making it a cherished occasion for all who actively participate in its rituals and celebrations.