Today is अष्टमी (Ashtami), the eight day of चैत्र नवरात्रि (Chaitra Navratri). After fasting for 7 days and observing faith and gratitude, this is the day to honor and worship the 9 different forms of Maa Durga. The 9 forms are शैलपुत्री, ब्रह्मचारिणी, चन्द्रघंटा, कूष्माण्डा, स्कंदमाता, कात्यायनी, कालरात्रि, महागौरी, सिद्धिदात्री (Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri)
How is this done?
The 9 forms of Goddess are worshipped by offering प्रसाद (Prashad) in the form of पूरी (Poori), हलवा (Halwa made out of roasted semolina in desi ghee with jaggery/sugar), चना (Black grams) to young children especially girls. It’s a beautiful tradition where you honor and acknowledge the feminine energy which nurtures our life in all different forms. This tradition is also known as कंजक or कन्या Poojan meaning worshipping the young girls.
As part of the tradition, people invite 9 girls to their houses and worship them by offering prashad in order to honor 9 different forms of Maa Durga. Having said that, the number 9 isn’t fanatically followed. I remember my mother and grandmother keeping the gates open and sometimes kanya poojan for last for hours.
Honoring our farmers
It is also the day to pay our respect to the hardwork done by our farmers and everyone who has been involved in ensuring food on our plate. By thanking and remembering them during our pooja rituals, we are grateful for the harvest in this season which will feed millions in the following year.
Here are some of the photos of how I managed celebrating Navratri in the last 7 days and the final day of Maha Ashtami. Perhaps, all this was possible because of years of watching my family, relatives, and neighbors do it. I’m glad to be part of this beautiful culture and tradition.
ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तुमा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
May All Be Prosperous and Happy
May All Be Free from Illness
May All See What Is Spiritually Uplifting
May No One Suffer In Any Way
Om Peace, Peace, Peace