Durgashtami – Worshipping the Great Fair Goddess

Durga Puja Ashtami is considered the most important day of the Durga Puja Festival. The pan-Indian festival of Navratri spans nine nights and ten days. During this festival, the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. Hence, Ashtami, the eighth lunar day of Navratri or Durga Puja, is known as Durgashtami (Durga Ashtami) or Maha Ashtami.

Om Devi Mahagauryayi Namah

Navratri is a commemoration of the triumph of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The nine-day celebration represents the nine days of the battle of the good against evil and the ultimate triumph of the good. The Navratri festival of the autumn season, known as Sharada Navratri, is celebrated from the Pratipada (the phase after the new moon) to the Dashami (tenth lunar phase) during the Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Ashwin month. The last five days of this festival, from Sashti (sixth lunar phase) to Dashami, are celebrated as Durga Puja. Durgashtami or Maha Ashtami (the eighth lunar phase) is one of the most auspicious days of Navratri and Durga Puja festivals.

Durga Ashtami 2022 Date & Important Timings

When is Durga Ashtami 2022

In 2022, Durga Ashtami will be celebrated on October 3, Monday

Ashtami Tithi Begins: 06:47 PM on October 2, 2022

Ashtami Tithi Ends: 04:37 PM on October 03, 2022

Sandhi Puja Muhurat – 04:13 PM to 05:01 PM on October 3, 2022

Mahagauri: Form of Durga worshipped on Maha Ashtami

During Navratri, each day is dedicated to a separate form or manifestation of the goddess, and on Ashtami (eighth lunar day), the form Mahagauri is worshipped. Goddess Mahagauri is known for fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. According to the legend, she is so fair that her skin tone is comparable to jasmine and Chandan. This is why the devotees call her Mahagauri, ‘Maha’ means great and ‘Gauri’ means fair. She has four arms, and she rides on a bull. Her right arm stays in Abhaya Mudra, and the other holds the Trishul (trident); on the left side, one arm holds the Damru (a small hand drum), and the other stays in Varada Mudra.

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On Maha Ashtami, women pray to Mahagauri to bless them with happiness and abundance. Also, it is believed that worshipping her will help to reduce the ill effects of Rahu, the shadowy planet.

Check Hindu Festivals in 2022

Masik Durga Ashtami

Every month has two lunar phases or Pakshas, i.e. the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) and Shukla Paksha (waxing moon). According to Hindu traditions and mythological beliefs, specific periods of the month are dedicated to the worship of specific gods; for example, the Chaturthi Tithi is dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha, Ekadashi Tithi for Lord Vishnu, etc. Similarly, the Ashtami Tithi of the Shukla paksha or the waxing moon of every month is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga, which is known as Masik Durga Ashtami as it is observed every month. The most significant Durga Ashtami of the year is Maha Ashtami which falls on the eighth day of the Navratri festival and is observed in the Hindu month of Ashwin. By observing the Masik Durga Ashtami fast/vrat, devotees believe that Goddess Durga fulfils their wishes.

Masik Durga Ashtami Fasting Dates in 2022

Since Masik Durga Ashtami is observed every month, below are the dates of Masik Durga Ashtami fast days in 2022.

January 10, 2022, Monday  Pausha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:  11:08 AM, January 09

Ends   12:24 PM, January 10
February 8, 2022, Tuesday Magha, Shukla Ashtami  Begins:   06:15 AM, Feb 08

Ends:    08:30 AM, Feb 09
March 10, 2022, Thursday Phalguna, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   02:56 AM, March 10

Ends:    05:34 AM, March 11
April 9, 2022, Saturday Chaitra, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   11:05 PM, April 08

Ends:    01:23 AM, April 10
May 9, 2022, Monday Vaishakha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   05:00 PM, May 08

Ends:    06:32 PM, May 09
June 8, 2022, Wednesday Jyeshtha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   07:54 AM, June 07

Ends:    08:30 AM, June 08
July 7, 2022, Thursday Ashadha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   07:48 PM, July 06

Ends:    07:28 PM, July 07
August 5, 2022, Friday Shravana, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   05:06 AM, August 05

Ends:    03:56 AM, August 06
September 4, 2022, Sunday Bhadrapada, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   12:28 PM, Sep 03

Ends:    10:39 AM, Sep 04
October 3, 2022, Monday Durga Ashtami

Ashwina, Shukla Ashtami
Begins:   06:47 PM, October 02

Ends:    04:37 PM, October 03
November 1, 2022, Tuesday Kartika, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   01:11 AM, Nov 01

Ends:    11:04 PM, Nov 01
November 30, 2022, Wednesday Margashirsha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   08:58 AM, Nov 30

Ends:    07:21 AM, Dec01
December 30, 2022, Friday Pausha, Shukla Ashtami Begins:   07:17 PM, December 29

Ends:    06:33 PM, December 30

Masik Durga Ashtami Vrat Puja Vidhi

Masik Durga Ashtami Vrat should be followed properly to gain the blessings of Goddess Durga. Devotees observe the fast for the entire day.

  • On the day of Masik Durga Ashtami, devotees must wake up early before sunrise and take their bath after their morning routine. They must wear clean clothes.
  • The place of worship or puja sthal is then purified and cleansed with Gangajal.
  • Place a wooden pooja stool at the puja sthal and spread a red cloth on top of it. Install the idol or picture of Goddess Durga and purify the idol using Gangajal.
  • Offerings of Akshat, vermilion and red flowers are then made to Goddess Durga. The colour red is of great significance as it is a colour dear to Goddess Durga. The idol is then offered fruits and sweets as Prasad while lighting the lamp and incense sticks.
  • Devotees then recite the Durga Chalisa and perform an aarti of Goddess Durga. A saatvik bhog is then offered to Goddess Durga.
Offerings of red chunari, red clothes, lamp, ghee, make-up items, bangles, ghee, incense sticks, coconut, rice, kumkum or vermilion, flowers, idol or photo of the goddess, betel nut, clove, cardamom, sugar candy for offerings, fruits, sweet, camphor and kalava are made to Goddess Durga while performing the Durga puja.

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Durga Ashtami Puja and Other Rituals

Worshipping Goddess Mahagauri on Durga Ashtami is considered auspicious. She is the eighth among the Navadurgas, the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga. The process of worship on Durga Ashtami is the same as that of Saptami except for the Pran Pratishta, which is done only on Saptami. Durga Puja on Maha Ashtami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja, which is very much similar to Maha Saptami Puja. In the Mahashtami Puja, all nine forms of the supreme Goddess Durga are worshipped. This involves installing nine small pots and invoking the nine Shaktis or avatars of Durga in them.

Durga Ashtami 2022 is also special because the AshtaSakthi, or the eight consorts of Goddess Durga, are worshipped on the day. The Ashta Shakti includes Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani, and Chamunda, who are all different representations of the same divine feminine energy, Goddess Durga.

The other rituals of the day include Astra Puja, Kanya Puja and Sandhi Puja. Devotees also observe a day-long fast or Vrat to seek her divine protection and blessings for peace, prosperity, and happiness. This is also a day of zesty celebrations. People erect enormous Puja Pandals (tents), install idols of Durga, and celebrate by dancing and wearing traditional outfits.

Astra Puja

Astra Puja is an important ritual observed on the day of Durga Ashtami. As per the belief, ten-armed Goddess Durga, carrying various weapons, slew the evil Mahishasur. The Astra Puja ritual involves worshipping the weapons of the goddess. This ritual is observed in various regions of India with some variations. In South India, the ritual Ayudha Puja is observed on Mahanavami (the Ninth day of Navratri), which involves the worship of tools used for working and studying.

The devotees, on this day, clean their tools and arrange them along with the goddess idol or picture for worshipping. All work equipment, including industrial machinery, vehicles, computers, books, mechanical tools, artist tools, study tools, etc., are worshipped on this day. This act of worshipping tools is an expression of gratitude for the prosperity received in the previous year. Also, worshipping tools alongside God is symbolic of worshipping one’s profession or job.

Kumari Puja

Kumari Puja or KanyaPujan is a tradition followed in North India on the occasion of Durga Ashtami. It’s a ritual in which unmarried girls are worshipped like Goddess Durga. Some people observe this ritual on Navami too. The traditions associated with Navratri and Durga Puja give more importance to women, which is a stark reminder of the power and status held by women in ancient India.

Kumari Puja ritual involves inviting nine young girls into the home and worshipping them as the nine avatars of Goddess Durga. As per some scriptures, girls between the age between 2 and 10 are considered appropriate for Kumari Puja. On the day of Ashtami, before breaking the fast, a group of girls are invited into the home and are honoured. They are welcomed by washing their feet, and the rituals of Aarti and Puja are conducted. After Puja, the girls are fed sweets and revered with some gifts. In some regions in India, this ritual is observed on all nine days of Navratri. This tradition is based on the belief that young girls (kanyaka/virgins) represent the Shakti (Energy) of Durga on Earth.

Sandhi Puja

Sandhi time or Sandhi Kaal refers to the time when Ashtami Tithi (eighth lunar day) ends and Navami Tithi (ninth lunar day) begins. It begins from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and ends after the first 24 minutes of Navami. This period is considered the most auspicious occasion to perform Durga Puja for the belief that Goddess Durga slew the demons, Chand and Mund, during this time. At the end of the Mahashtami, Sandhi Puja and home/yagna are performed, and devotees offer bananas, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc. Lighting 108 clay lamps is another ritual performed during Sandhi Kaal.

Durga Ashtami Mantra, Prarthana, Stuti, Dhyana&Stotra

Durga Ashtami Mantra:

Om Devi Mahagauryayi Namah

Durga AshtamiPrarthana:

ShweteVrishesamarudhaShwetambaradharaShuchih

MahagauriShubhamDadyanmahadevaPramodada

Durga AshtamiStuti:

Ya Devi SarvabhuteshuMaaMahagauriRupenaSamsthita

NamastasyaiNamastasyaiNamastasyai Namo Namah

Durga AshtamiDhyana:

VandeVanchhitaKamartheChandrardhakritashekharam

SimharudhaChaturbhujaMahagauriYashasvinim

PurnanduNibham Gauri SomachakrasthitamAshtamamMahagauriTrinetram

VarabhitikaramTrishulaDamarudharamMahagauriBhajem

PatambaraParidhanamMriduhasyaNanalankaraBhushitam

Manjira, Hara, Keyura, Kinkini, RatnakundalaManditam

PraphullaVandanaPallavadharamKantaKapolamTrailokyaMohanam

KamaniyamLavanyamMrinalamChandanaGandhaliptam

Durga AshtamiStotra:

SarvasankataHantriTvamhi Dhana Aishwarya Pradayanim

JnanadaChaturvedamayiMahagauriPranamamyaham

SukhaShantidatri Dhana DhanyaPradayanim

DamaruvadyaPriyaAdyaMahagauriPranamamyaham

TrailokyamangalaTvamhiTapatrayaHarinim 

VadadamChaitanyamayiMahagauriPranamamyaham

Durga Ashtami Legends

Navratri is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. It commemorates the slaying of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. When Lord Indra was vanquished by Mahishasura, the holy trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, created Goddess Durga, and each part of her body was blessed with the energies of different Gods. As per some scriptures, the soul of Goddess Durga came into existence on the day of Shukla Paksha Ashtami.

Another legend surrounding Durga Ashtami is that Goddess Chamunda appeared from the forehead of Mother Durga and annihilated Chanda, Munda, and Rakthabija.

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Goddess Durga, in the form of Maha Gauri, is worshipped on Durga Ashtami. The story of Mahagauri is another legend associated with Durga Ashtami. The tough penance which Parvati had gone through for getting Shiva as her husband hampered her skin and turned it black. When Shiva accepted her finally, he cleaned all the impurities off her body in the river Ganga, and her complexion became extremely white, for which she is called ‘Maha Gauri’.

Mahagauri – the fairest of them all

Mahagauri is the eighth form of Durga Devi. Her other names are Shwetambardhara, Vrisharudha, Chaturbhuji and Shambhavi. Mahagauri is seated on a bull and has four arms. Two of her arms hold the Trishul and the Damru. The other two arms show the varada and Abhay mudras meant to bless her devotees. Mahagauri signifies purity, calmness, wisdom and austerity. With her help, the devotee can overcome all evil forces and lead a virtuous life and thus attain permanent bliss.

Mahagauri is considered to be the epitome of beauty. She symbolizes freedom and liberation from all that is bad. Mahagauri regained her original glory when washed with the waters of Ganga. This points to the holiness of the river and how bathing in it washes away the bad from the body and soul of a person. Mahagauri rules the shadow planet Rahu. Worshipping Mahagauri will remove the ill effects of Rahu. Mahagauri is believed to reside in the Sahasrara crown chakra, which is the culmination point of the Sushumna Nadi energy channel in the human body. This Nadi, if made to awake, can realize the full human potential of a person.

Mahagauri also narrates the hardship and sacrifices one has to endure before reaching the state of pure bliss. The mudra of her right arm is to allay the fears of the devotee. In her second right arm, Mahagauri holds a Trishul which symbolizes the powers of creation and destruction. In her left hand, she holds the Damru which is symbolic of the continuation of existence through the cycle of birth and rebirth. The mudra on the other left hand is to give out blessings to the devotees. Her clothes are white and pure.

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