Durgashtami, or Durga Ashtami, is the eight day of the Navaratri and Durga Puja celebrations. Durgastami is also known as Mahashtami and is one of the important days of Durga Puja and a fasting is undertaken by many people. In 2015, the date of Durga Ashtami is October 21. Weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped on the day and it is known Astra Puja. The day is also known as Virashtami as there are displays using arms or martial arts. It is one of the most important day for Goddess Worship in Hindu religion.
Please note - Chaitra Durgashtami will be observed on April 14, 2016
There is also a belief in some regions that Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Durga on this day to annihilate Chanda and Munda and Rakthabija. During the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami day the 64 Yoginis and Ashtanayikas – the eight consorts – of Durga are also worshipped.
The eight consorts of Durga, also known as Eight Shaktis, are interpreted differently in different regions of
. But ultimately all the eight goddesses are incarnations of Shakti with different aims. Sometimes they are also an attempt to give form to a particular aspect of Shakti. India
The Ashtanayikas that are worshipped during Durga Puja are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda.
Numerous minor deities including many attendants and guards of Durga are worshipped on the day.
A fast is observed by staunch Durga devotees on Durga Ashtami. Both men and women observe the fast. Shakti temples conduct special pujas on the day and are visited by millions of devotees.
Durgashtami day ends with Sandhi puja, which overlaps into the next day which is the Mahanavami day.