Maha Ashtami today, rain plays spoilsport in Puja festivities

October 24, 2020: Durga Puja festivities entered its second day on Saturday even as inclement weather has dampened the puja spirit.


October 24, 2020: Durga Puja festivities entered its second day on Saturday even as inclement weather has dampened the puja spirit.

Today is Maha Ashtami which is the most auspicious days of the Durga Puja. it is believed that on Durga Ashtami, Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Devi Durga. She destroyed the asuras or demons as Goddess Kali, the fiercest avatar of Durga. Durga Ashtami is also special because all the eight consorts of Goddess Durga - Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda - are worshipped on the day.

On Ashtami nine small pots are installed and all nine avatars of Devi Durga are invoked in them. All nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during Maha Ashtami Puja. Kanya Pujan is an important part of Durga Ashtami. It involves the ritual of inviting eight young girls and worshipping them as avatars of Goddess Durga. At the end of the Maha Ashtami on Durga Puja, Sandhi Puja and hom or yagna is performed.

The five-day Durga Puja started on Thursday with Sashthi Puja. This time, participation has been made limited at the mandaps due to the Covid-19. No one will be given entry into the mandap without checking the temperature and without a mask. The government has already issued protocols to be followed by both puja committees and the revellers.

These include mandatory Covid tests for priests and committee members, spacious pandals with open from all sides, adequate space for physical distancing , measures to avoid crowding at all costs and ensure that not more than 10 to 30 persons can congregate at a time depending on the size of the pandal, separate entry and exit gates, mandatory use of face masks for all visitors, use of microphone by priests so that devotees need not come close to him to offer anjali and no distribution of prasad in the pandal or community feasting.

The government has also instructed that restaurants will be closed at 10.30 pm and only takeaway food will be allowed, subject to relevant permissions from the government. Besides, pillion riding will not be allowed for males during Puja days. However, pillion riding is allowed during Puja days for women or child below 15 years.

According to the epic Ramayana, before attacking Ravana in Lanka to free his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn — a time when the gods’ sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.

The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva in Kailash on Dashami.

The festival epitomises the victory of good over evil. During Durga Pija, Goddess Durga along with her children Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and music ) Ganesha (god of good beginnings) and Kartikeya (god of war) are also worshipped.


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