Durga Ashtami is performed on the 8th Navratra during Durga Puja festival. Nine nights of Devi Puja known as Navratre comprise a colorful celebration marked with devotion to express respects to Goddess Durga. It is believed that Maa Durga is omnipresent. Its Shakti (Power) is manifest to bless all devotees. Several temples throughout the country are dedicated to Durga Mata. The celebration continues for these 9 days in temples as well as Hindu homes. Many Hindus observe fast as a symbol of their devotion to the all powerful Goddess Durga. Our beloved Prime Minister Modi also observes fast on these Navratras. It was heartwarming to know that even on the night of the special dinner organized by none other than US president Barak Obama, our Prime Minister Modi joined the celebrations but took only plain water.
Durga Saptshati explains in details the importance of observing and celebrating the festival. More than that the Holy book explains how Durga Mata is incarnation of power. She appears herself and helps the devotees whenever they are in peril. The Goddess fights the evil forces represented by Rakshas in the time when they vitiate peace and over power Devtas.
Traditionally in a Hindu home fresh and delicious food is prepared in the morning of Ashtami. Poori and Halwa (sweet made with wheat flour, ghee and sugar) potato curry, a special preparation that goes wheel with Poories, Chana and Pakodies (fried basen balls mixed with bitten curd and water). These comprise Prasad food and is offered to the Goddess. Young girls are invited and the elders in the house wash their feet as a mark of respect. Then they are offered food as Prasad. It is believed that the young girls bless the house with peace and prosperity.
Different parts of the country the traditions or the method of Puja may differ but objective is the same- expression of devotion to Durga Mata.
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