Durga Ashtami is celebrated on the 2nd day of Durga Pooja. It is also called as Maha Durga Ashtami. On the day of Durga Ashtami, the process of worshiping Goddess Durga is same as that of Saptami. However, on this day Praan Pratishtha is not done. On the day of Durga Poojan Ashtami after the Maha Snaan, Goddess Durga’s Shodashopachara Poojan is done.
On the day of Maha Durga Ashtami, 9 small pots are kept and all the 9 manifestation of Goddess Durga are worship thus, invoking the Goddess. On this day, all the 9 manifestations of Goddess Durga are worshipped.
On the day of Maha Ashtami, Kumari Pooja is also done. On this occasion, unmarried girls or young girls are adored to be worship like Goddess Durga as they are consider as the manifestation of the Goddess. In many states of India, Kumari Pooja is done on all the 9 days of Navratri. Kumari Pooja is also known by the name of Kumarika Puja.
According to the spiritual scriptures, girls of the age between 2-10 are considering appropriate for Kumari Puja. The girls illustrate different manifestation of Goddess Durga in the Kumari Pooja. These manifestations are as follows-
- Bhadra or Subhadra
Durga Pooja Ashtami is considering as the most significant day of Durga Pooja. This Pooja lasts for both the days of Ashtami and Navami. In Sandhi Pooja, the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the starting 24 minutes of Navami are called as Sandhi time or Kaal. The time of Sandhi Kaal is considered as the most favorable time for Durga Pooja. Because it is this time only, when Ashtami Tithi ends and Navami Tithi begins. It is believed that during this time only, Goddess Durga in her divine expression slayed Asur Chand and Mund.
At the time of Sandhi Pooja, there is a tradition of sacrifice an animal and then offering to Goddess Durga. However, instead of sacrifice an animal as an offering to the Goddess, the devotees offer banana, pumpkin and Armenian cucumber (kakdi). Now in the Hindu faith, many communities believe animal sacrifice as unpropitious. In order to stop the animal abuse this tradition of animal sacrifice has been completely obliterated. At Belur Math in West Bengal, bananas are offered at the time of Sandhi Pooja. Apart from this, 108 clay lamps are lighted at the time of Sandhi Kaal.