The 8th day of Navratri which falls in the Maha Ashtami Tithi observes the worship of Goddess Mahagauri as well as Goddess Saraswati. Sandhi puja is also observed in many regions of India. On the eighth day of Navratri Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped. It is believed that she is the most beautiful and glows very brightly. That’s the reason her name is Gauri. She is the Goddess who denotes peace and endurance. It is said that worshipping her will clean the devotees heart and make him pious. This puja is performed during Ashwin Shukla Ashtami.
Maha Ashtami Rituals
Maha Ashtami is a day which is also considered to be one of the major rituals day in many parts of the country. Certain rituals on this particular day are said to be very powerful. The festival begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja which is quite similar to Maha Saptami Puja.
On this day, Sandhi Puja begins when Ashtami Tithi ends and Navami Tithi starts. In some regions people consider that giving blood to the Goddess would solace her and hence make her cool. So, people perform a ritual known as bali. Usually goats are taken in front of the goddess and beheaded. The blood is then given as an offering. On the same day they light 108 earthen lamps during Sandhi Kaal. It is said that Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Maa Durga on this auspicious day. Temples conduct special puja’s on those days.
Devotees install nine earthen pots and invoke Goddess image in it. Nine forms of Durga are been worshipped during Maha Ashtami Puja and some young unmarried girls are treated as Goddess. This ritual is known as Kumari Puja and performing this ritual on a single day during Durga Puja is preferred on Maha Ashtami. Navami Homa is the most important ritual during Durga Puja and devotees perform Homa at the end of Navami Puja.
Origin of Mahagauri Puja
It is said that Goddess Shailputri who became Goddess Parvati after marrying the almighty Lord Shiva, had obtained Lord Shiva as her husband after hard penance. During the days of hard penance she had turned black and dull. When Lord Shiva got impressed from her love and sacrifice he washed her with pure Ganga water. This turned her white and glow like a pearl. After this reformation the Goddess was named Mahagauri.
Appearance and Form
This avatar is named Gauri because of its complexion. She has a mesmerizing and spellbound whitish skin tone. She wears white clothes and hence is also known as Shwetambardhara. Her deity is represented with four arms. She carries Trishul in one right hand and the second right hand is in Abhaya Mudra. She holds a Damaru in one left hand and the other left hand is in Varada Mudra. She rides a bull and hence is also known as Vrisharudha.
This Goddess is worshiped on the 8thday of Navratri. The tithi prevailing is Ashtamitithi.
2. AtmaPooja - Puja done for self-purification
3. Tilak and aachman - Put tilak on forehead and drink holy water from palms.
4. Sankalpa - Taking water in hand and making a wish in front of the Goddess.
5. Aavahana and Aasan - Offer flowers
6. Paadhya - Offer water to the Devi’s charan.
7. Aachman - Offer kapoor (camphor) mixed water.
8. DugdhaSnan - Offer cow milk for bathing
9. Ghrita and Madhusnan - Offer ghee and honey for bathing
10. Sharkara and Panchamritsnan - Offer sugar and the panchaamrita bathing.
11. Vastra - Offer sari or cloth to wear.
12. Chandan - Put Sandalwood tilak on the deity.
13. Put Kumkum on her forehead
14. Kajal, druvapatra and bilwapatra should be offered
15. Dhoopa and deepam is offered
16. Prasad is given to the Goddess
17. Aarti is made
18. Recite the mantra and offer the diya
19. Lord Shiva is also worshipped along with the Devi
20. Kanyapoojan is also done on this day – nine little girls are invited home and offered food and clothing.
Om Devi MahagauryaiNamah॥
Ya Devi SarvabhuteshuMaaMahagauriRupenaSamsthita।
Manjira, Hara, Keyura, Kinkini, RatnakundalaManditam॥
OmkarahPatuShirshoMaa, Him BijamMaa, Hridayo।
KlimBijamSadapatuNabhoGriho Cha Padayo॥
LalatamKarno Hum BijamPatuMahagauriMaaNetramGhrano।
This ritual is celebrated on the eighth and ninth day of Navratri. In this puja Nine little girls are invited to home and offered food and clothing. It is said that by doing this you are inviting the nine forms of Goddess Durga to your home. The nine names of the Goddesses the nine girls can be represented as are
It is said that the girl to be worshipped for Kumari Puja should be healthy and free from all sorts of diseases and physical defects. It is believed that Brahmin girls should be chosen to fulfill all sorts of wishes, Kshatriya girls for the glory and fame, Vaishya girls for wealth and prosperity and Shudra girls for getting a son.
1. The feet of the nine little girls are washed
2. They are then given clothes and gifts
3. The girls are made to sit on special pedestal
4. Aarti is performed on them
5. Tilak, rice grains and vermilion is put on them
6. They are then offered food and water