Durga Ashtami or Maha Ashtami is scheduled for 13 October. The Durga Ashtami or Maha-Ashtami tithi will begin at 9:57 PM on 12 October and will end at 8:07 PM on 13 October, according to Drik Panchang.
Durga Ashtami is considered one of the most important days of Durga Puja, which is held in accordance with the Tantra belief system. It begins with mahasnan and shodashopachar puja, which is similar to the Saptami puja.
On this day, nine small pots are installed and nine forms of Durga are then invoked in them. All the nine forms of the goddess are worshipped during the Maha-Ashtami puja. Young, unmarried girls are worshipped on this day too. This is known as Kumari Puja. Devotees believe that these girls are manifestations of Maa Durga. During the puja, worshippers wash their feet, offer them red dupatta, bangles, and a few other tokens of gratitude.
One of the main events on Durga Ashtami is the sandhi puja, which is held at the juncture when Ashtami tithi ends and Navami tithi begins. It is believed that Devi Chamunda appeared around this time to kill demons Chanda and Munda.
The puja usually lasts for about 48 minutes. This time, the muhurat is from 07.43 PM to 08:31 PM. During this time, it is customary to perform an animal sacrifice. People who abstain from sacrifices can replace it with banana, cucumber or pumpkin for performing a symbolic bali. In some mediaeval and ancient temples, animals are still sacrificed on the occasion.
This year, Durga Ashtami mahasnan is to be followed by installing nine small pots to invoke nine shaktis of goddess Durga and then they will be worshipped during Mahashtami puja.
In north India, devotees will offer goddess Mahagauri with yellow flowers, halwa, puri and black chickpeas. One may wear yellow or white clothes while worshipping the goddess. During the aarti, 108 earthen lamps are lit to appease the goddess and seek her blessings during the sandhi puja.
In northern India, on the other hand, the eighth day of the auspicious Hindu festival of Navratri is called Ashtami, and on this day, devotees of Maa Durga worship Goddess Mahagauri. The nine-day festival of Navratri is dedicated to the nine forms of goddess Durga, which are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri.