Calendar

May
23
Thu
2024
Buddha Purnima
May 23 all-day
Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima during Vaishakha month is celebrated as birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha. Although celebrated as the day Buddha was born and known as Buddha Jayanti, it is also known as the day he attained salvation or Nirvana under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya. Gautama Buddha whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures, most historians date Gautama Buddha’s lifetime between 563-483 B.C. Most people consider Lumbini, Nepal as birth place of Buddha. Buddha died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important pilgrimage site related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The other three important pilgrimage sites are KushinagarLumbini, and Sarnath. It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment at Bodhagaya and he first taught the Dharma at Sarnath. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, VesakVaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.

According to the Buddhism, sorrow and desire are the main cause of all the evil and suffering of this world. Lord Buddha advocated the Eightfold Path consisting of precepts like right conduct, right motive, right speech, right effort, right resolve, right livelihood, right attention and right meditation to gain mastery over suffering. It is only after following this path one can reach the ultimate aim of Nirvana. Nirvana is the transcendental state of complete liberation. In North India Buddha is considered as the 9th incarnation and Lord Krishna as the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However Buddha is never considered as an Avatar of Vishnu in South Indian belief. In South India Balarama is considered as the 8th incarnation and Krishna as the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Balarama is counted as an incarnation of Vishnu by the majority of Vaishnava movements. Even Buddhists don’t consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka espoused the Buddhist religion in the 3rd century B.C. and helped in spreading it far and wide.

Jun
9
Sun
2024
Maharana Pratap Jayanti
Jun 9 all-day
Maharana Pratap Jayanti

Maharana Pratap or Pratap Singh (1540-1597 C.E.) was a Hindu Rajput King of Mewar in Rajasthan, India. Maharana Pratap belonged to the Sisodiya clan of Rajputs and he was the eldest son of Udai Singh II and Jaiwanta Bai. He is revered and worshipped by many royal families in Rajasthan for his bravery and courage.

As per historical records, Maharana Pratap was born on May 9th, 1540 according to Julian calendar. Julian calendar is obsolete and it has been replaced by Gregorian calendar. According to Proleptic Gregorian calendar Maharana Pratap was born on May 19th 1540.

However, the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. Either one follows Julian calendar or Gregorian calendar, the Hindu date of birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap falls on the same day. According to Hindu calendar it was Tritiya, Jyeshtha, Shukla Paksha, 1597 Vikram Samvat when Maharana Pratap was born.

In 1568, during the reign of Udai Singh II, Chittor was conquered by the Mughal Emperor Akbar after the third Jauhar at Chittor. Udai Singh and his family had left before the capture and moved to the foothills of the Aravalli Range where Udai Singh had already founded the city of Udaipur in 1559 and Pratap was coronated on 1 March 1572 at Gogunda. Chittorgarh (Chittor fort), Pratap’s ancestral home, was under Mughal occupation. Living a life on the run, the dream of reconquering Chittor (and thus reclaiming the glory of Mewar) was greatly cherished by Pratap, and his future efforts were bent towards this goal. Nearly all of Pratap’s fellow Rajput chiefs had meanwhile entered into the vassalage of the Mughals. Akbar sent a total of six diplomatic missions to Pratap, seeking to negotiate the same sort of peaceful alliance that he had concluded with the other Rajput chiefs but the never give up attitude lead him to hold over his glory and territory.

Maharana Pratap is best known for Battle of Haldighati against Mughal emperor Akbar to defend his kingdom. On June 21, 1576 (June 18 by other calculations), the two armies met at Haldighati, near the town of Gogunda. Maharana Pratap fielded a force of around 3,000 cavalry and 400 Bhil archers. The Mughals were led by Raja Man Singh of Amber, who commanded an army numbering around 5,000–10,000 men. After a fierce battle lasting more than three hours, Pratap found himself wounded and the day lost. While a few of his men bought him time, he managed to make an escape to the hills and lived to fight another day. The casualties for Mewar numbered around 160 men. The Mughal army lost 1500 men, with another 350 wounded. While Mughals were able to capture Gogunda and nearby areas, they were unable to hold onto them for long. As soon as the empire’s focus shifted elsewhere, Pratap and his army came out of hiding and recaptured the western regions of his dominion. With the large booty at his disposal, Pratap organized another attack and Battle of Dewar followed in which army of Mewar was victorious and Pratap was able to claim back much of the lost territories of Mewar, except Chittor.

During Pratap’s exile, he received much assistance from Bhamashah, a trusted general and aide of Pratap, who along with his brother Tarachand looted Mughal territory of Malwa and offered this large booty to Pratap to carry on his fight against Mughal. Bhamashah was promoted to post of Prime Minister after this by Pratap.

Maharana Pratap died of injuries sustained in a hunting accident. He died at Chavand, which served as his capital, on 29 January 1597, aged fifty-seven. A chhatri, commemorating Pratap Singh’s funeral, exists in Chavand and is an important tourist attraction today. It is said that as he lay dying, Pratap made his son and successor, Amar Singh, swear to maintain eternal conflict against the Mughals. Amar Singh fought 17 wars with the Mughals. After Mewar was depleted financially and in man-power he conditionally accepted them as rulers. The treaty between Amar Singh and Mughal King Jahangir had some obligations that fort of Chittor would not be repaired and Mewar would have to keep a contingent of 1000 horse in the Mughal service. Besides Amar Singh would not have to be present at any of the Mughal Darbars.

Jun
17
Mon
2024
Bakrid, Eid al-Adha
Jun 17 all-day
Bakrid, Eid al-Adha

Eid al Adha or Eid ul Zuha or Bakrid is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim lunar calendar, known as the Hijri calendar. This holy day is celebrated by the Muslim community throughout the world on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijjah and holds a special place in the hearts of the entire community. The holy day of Bakrid is known as Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and means “Feast of the Sacrifice”.

This festival was named thus, as its origin lay in the Islamic history as per which, it was on this day that God decided to test the faith of Abraham. It so happed, that Abraham, who was one of the Prophets of God saw a dream in which, the almighty commanded him to sacrifice his son. Abraham and his son both showed willingness to perform this ultimate sacrifice and just as after slitting his son’s throat Abraham looked at the alter, where he expected to find his son’s lifeless body, he saw a dead ram instead and his son was standing hail and hearty. God delivered his son from death, as the duo had passed his test of faith. Thus, to commemorate the devotion, spirit of sacrifice and unquestioning faith in the almighty, Muslims perform animal sacrifice and offer prayers, to mark this occasion.

The celebrations of Bakrid also corresponds with another significant event that occurred in the history of Islam i.e. the completion of the holy Quran, this makes the revelry twofold.

The word ‘bakri’ means goat in Hindi, thus giving rise to the name Bakr-Id. It occurs after the Hajj pilgrimage, which is the fifth pillar of Islam, undertaken by the Muslims. It is celebrated with ritualistic fervor in Andhra Pradesh and in particular, the old city of Hyderabad.

Jul
8
Mon
2024
Al-Hijra, Islamic New Year
Jul 8 all-day
Al-Hijra, Islamic New Year

Al-Hijra is an annual Muslim festival marking the first day of the Islamic New Year and the month of Muharram. This day represents the journey of the Prophet Muhammed from two of the holiest sites in Islam, from Mecca to Medina, in 624CE. Hijra itself means “migration” in Arabic. Muharram itself is one of the four sacred months of the Islamic lunar calendar, of which there are 12 in total, and the second most important after Ramadan. The month moves from year-to-year as it follows the moon phases.

The names of the 12 months in the Islamic lunar Calendar are-

  1. Muharram
  2. Safar
  3. Rabiul-Awwal
  4. Rabi-uthani
  5. Jumadi-ul-Awwal
  6. Jumadi-uthani
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha’ban
  9. Ramadan
  10. Shawwal
  11. Dhil-Q’ada
  12. Dhil-Hijja

As in the western new year, Muslims often make resolutions on Al-Hijra, but the Islamic New Year and the wider sacred month are worshipped differently in the two predominant strands of Islam, Shiite and Sunni. For Shiites, he fact that the day coincides with the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, which took place in the southern Iraqi city in 680, is significant. Shiites argue that only relatives of the Prophet Muhammad should succeed as caliph, which sparked the split between Shiite and Sunni after the Muhammed’s death. Mohammed’s first cousin, Ali, was murdered in 661 and at Karbala, his grandson Hussein Ibn Ali was killed by an army sent by Sunni caliph Yazid I. His defeat marked the ascendance of Sunni Islam over the Shiites, a discourse that is very much present in modern politics today, with Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran battling for influence in the Muslim world.

Shiites now mourn Hussain’s death for the first ten days of Muharram and take part in reenactments of the battle. Of particular significance is the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura, the day that Hussein was killed. Shiite Muslims fast and pray in the build-up to Ashura on what will be the Year 1438 AH, which stands for the year of “Hijra.” Millions of Shiite pilgrims travel to their holiest sites for the commemoration, located in both Iran and Iraq, particularly Karbala, which is situated 100 kilometers south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. They mourn, beat their chests in what is called Latyma, and self-flaggelate, cutting incisions into their heads with machetes. Sunni Muslims, instead of mourning, fast on the day of Ashura to celebrate the victory of Moses over an Egyptian pharaoh on the 10th day of the sacred month.

Jul
17
Wed
2024
Muharram
Jul 17 all-day
Muharram

The new moon signals the beginning of the month of Muharram which refers to the first month of the Islamic lunar Calendar. The Hijri New Year is the name given to the first day of the month. It is the tenth and the most significance day of the sacred month of Muharram according to the Muslims. Shia Muslims celebrate this day to mourn the death of Husayn Ibn Ali, the Sunni Muslims observe this day to celebrate the victory of Moses over Egyptian Pharaoh.

Muharram marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala and is widely commemorated by Shia Muslims. According to the legend popular among Shia Muslims, Husayn Ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, was beheaded during the Battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram. Husayn Ibn Ali is an important figure in Muslim religion and is believed to be a member of the Muhammad’s household. During the reign of Yazid, it is believed that Husayn refused to accept the Islamic rules laid down by Yazid. Instead, Husayn decided to revolt against the ruler which led to the uprising in Karbalan. During the battle of Karbalan, Husayn was beheaded while his family was imprisoned in Damascus. However, according to Sunni Muslims, it was on this day that Moses gained victory over Egyptian Pharaohs. Moses was a religious leader and was meant to propagate religious teachings around the world.

Shia and Sunni Muslims, both the factions observe fast on this day, with the Sunni Muslims observing fast for an extra day, either before or after this day. It is believed that this extra fasting day is observed in accordance with the teachings of Muhammad Prophet. In certain cases, the Shia Muslims fast for the whole month and also flagellate themselves with sticks and rods on this day. They harm themselves to commemorate the sufferings of Husayn Ibn Ali while fighting against the oppressive regime of Yazid. Muharram is a period for self-reflection and to remember the battle of Karbala.

Aug
15
Thu
2024
Independence Day
Aug 15 all-day
Independence Day

The Independence Day of India is celebrated religiously throughout the Country on the 15th of August every year and it reminds every Indian about the dawn of a new beginning. It was the day when India was declared independent from British colonialism. Today, Independence Day is considered as a national festival and regardless of religion, class, race, and creed, it is celebrated and rejoiced with several events and cultural programs. It is a day of celebration when we rejoice our freedom and pay homage to those who laid down their lives winning it for us. A festival every Indian holds dearest to his heart, Independence Day commemorates the arduous journey that was undertaken by millions of brave Indians to break away from the shackles of colonial rule. Incidentally, India is not the only country to celebrate Independence Day on August 15, here are five more countries Republic of Congo, North Korea, South Korea, Bahrain and Liechtenstein celebrate their freedom on the same day.

India, world’s largest democracy, is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Our Independence struggle involved wide spectrum of political organisations of India, their philosophies, and movements which were united only for one noble cause; to end the British Colonial Authority and thrive as an independent nation.

British rule in India began in 1757 when, following the British victory at the Battle of Plassey, the English East India Company began exercising control over the country. The East India Company ruled India for 100 years, until it was replaced by the British crown in the wake of the Indian Mutiny in 1857–58. In the decades following, civic society gradually emerged across India, most notably the Indian National Congress Party, formed in 1885. During the 1930 s, reform was gradually legislated by the British; Congress won victories in the resulting elections. In February 1947, Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British government would grant full self-governance to British India by June 1948 at the latest. The new viceroy, Lord Mountbatten chose the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, 15 August, as the date of power transfer. The British government announced on 3 June 1947 that it had accepted the idea of partitioning British India into two states, India and Pakistan.

Independence Day is marked throughout India with flag-raising ceremonies, drills, and the singing of the Indian national anthem. Additionally, various cultural programs are made available in the state capitals. After the prime minister participates in the flag-raising ceremony at the Red Fort historic monument in Old Delhi, a parade ensues with members of the armed forces and police.

Aug
19
Mon
2024
Raksha Bandhan
Aug 19 all-day
Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a special Hindu festival which is celebrated in India and countries like Nepal to symbolize the love between a brother and a sister. This is celebrated in Shravana month during full moon day or Purnima day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. It typically falls in the August month of Gregorian calendar. Bhadra prevails during first half of Purnima Tithi and one should avoid tying Rakhi during Bhadra.

The festival is made up of two words, namely “Raksha” and “Bandhan.” As per the Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means “the tie or knot of protection”. Together, the festival symbolizes the eternal love of brother-sister relationship which does not mean just the blood relationships only. It is also celebrated among cousins, sister and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija) and other such relations. There are several stories related to the celebration of this special festival.

As per an account of Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, when Lord Vishnu won the three worlds from the demon King Bali, he asked by the demon king to stay beside him in the palace. The Lord accepted the requested and started living with the demon king. However, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wanted to return to his native place of Vaikuntha. So, she tied the rakhi around the wrist of demon king, Bali and made him a brother. On asking about the return gift, Goddess Lakshmi asked Bali to free her husband from the vow and let him return to Vaikuntha. Bali agreed to the request and Lord Vishnu returned to his place with his wife, Goddess Lakshmi.

According to the ancient legend of Bhavishya Purana, once there was a fierce battle between Gods and demons. Lord Indra was fighting the battle on the side of Gods was having a tough resistance from the powerful demon King, Bali. The war continued for a long time and did not came on a decisive end. Seeing this, Indra’s wife Sachi went to the Lord Vishnu who gave her a holy bracelet made up of cotton thread. Sachi tied the holy thread around the wrist of her husband, Lord Indra who ultimately defeated the demons and recovered the Amaravati. Unlike, the present times, those holy threads were not limited to brother-sister relationships.

Based on an account of Mahabharat, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas tied a piece of cloth from her sari to Lord Krishna when he hurt his finger while setting off his Sudarshan Chakra to fight evil and Kunti tied the rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war.

Another legend says that the death God, Yama did not visit his sister Yamuna for a period of 12 years who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality of her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted who asked Yamuna for a gift. She expressed her desire to see her brother again and again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna immortal so that he could see her again and again. This mythological account forms the basis of festival called “Bhaiya Dooj” which is also based on the brother-sister relationship.

The festival is celebrated in different forms in different areas and is also known by different names. The festival is mainly celebrated by the Hindus in the northern and western parts of India along with countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Mauritius. The occasion is also revered by the Jain community where Jain priests give ceremonial threads to the devotees. This festival devoted to the brother-sister love is observed by the Sikhs as “Rakhardi” or Rakhari.

Aug
26
Mon
2024
Shree Krishna Janmashtami
Aug 26 – Aug 27 all-day
Shree Krishna Janmashtami

Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Janmashtami is a religious and one of the most important festival commemorating the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as KrishnashtamiGokulashtamiAshtami RohiniSrikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi. Krishna was born on ‘Ashtami’ or the ‘eighth day’ at midnight in the holy month of Shravana. Most of the time, Krishna Janmashtami is listed on two consecutive days. The first one is for Smarta Sampradaya and other one is for Vaishanava Sampradaya. Vaishanava Sampradaya date is the latter one. A single date for Janmashtami means that both Sampradaya would observe Janmashtami on the same date.

The reason behind this unanimity is the institution of ISKCON. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as ISKCON is founded on the principles of Vaishnava traditions and most followers of the ISKCON are the followers of Vaishnavism. In North India most people observe Janmashtami on the day chosen by ISKCON. Many people who are not the followers of Vaishnavism don’t even understand that ISKCON traditions are different and the most appropriate day to observe Janmashtami fasting might not be same as that of ISKCON. In ISKCON tradition, Janmashtami will be celebrated on 3rd Sepetember 2018.

Raas lila, a night vigil (jagarana), fasting (upavasa) and celebrations (mahotsava) are important parts of Janmashtami. The event is particularly celebrated by ardent Vaishnavism followers because Krishna is was the eighth avatar of God Vishnu. Lord Krishna’s uncle, King Kansa, wanted to kill him. So as soon as he was born, his father Vasudeva took him across the Yamuna to Gokul where he was then taken care of by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On Janmashtami, devotees honour how Krishna emerged victorious over the trials and tribulations over his birth, and later over the evil King Kansa.

Believers fast the whole day, spending the time singing devotional songs. They also maintain a vigil into the night as Krishna was born at midnight. The devotees offer ‘chappan bhog’, a list of 56 dishes, to the God on the following day known as ‘Nanda Utsav’. After the offering, the prasad is then distributed and shared among the devotees.

Sep
7
Sat
2024
Ganesh Chaturthi
Sep 7 all-day
Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and Ganesh Chauth, is celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month. Currently Ganesh Chaturthi day falls in month of August or September in English calendar according to the Hindu calendar.

Ganesha, one of the most beloved gods is known by 108 different names in our culture. He is considered to be a symbol of good fortune, wisdom, prosperity and wealth. The Ganeshotsav, the festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi, ends after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan day. On Anant Chaturdashi, devotees immerse idol of Lord Ganesh in water body after a gala street procession.

As per Hindu time-keeping, the time duration between sunrise to sunset is divided into five equal parts. These five parts are known as Pratahkala, Sangava, Madhyahna, Aparahna and Sayankal. Ganapati Sthapana and Ganapati Puja on Ganesha Chaturthi are done during Madhyahna part of the day and as per Vedic astrology it is considered the most appropriate time for Ganesha Puja.

Out of all the stories linked to the history of this festival, the most relevant one dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that Parvati is the creator of Ganesha. The story says that Parvati used her sandalwood paste and created Ganesha in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the work of guarding her bathroom door while she was bathing. After Shiva returned home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tiff due to which Shiva severed the head of the child. Witnessing this site, Parvati enraged and Lord Shiva promised getting Ganesh back to life. The followers searched for a child’s head facing north, but all they could find was an elephant’s head. And that’s how our Gajanana was born.

It is believed that one should not sight the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. Sighting moon on Ganesh Chaturthi creates Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank (कलंक) which means false accusation of stealing something. As per Puranic legends, Lord Krishna was falsely accused of stealing precious jewel named Syamantaka. After seeing plights of Lord Krishna, Sage Narada informed that Lord Krishna sighted moon on the day of Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi and because of that he has been cursed with Mithya Dosha. Sage Narada further informed Lord Krishna that God Chandra has been cursed by Lord Ganesha that anyone who sighted moon on Shukla Chaturthi during Bhadrapada month would be cursed with Mithya Dosha and would be tainted and dishonoured in the society. On the advice of sage Narada Lord Krishna observed Ganesha Chaturthi fasting to get rid of Mithya Dosha.

If anyone has mistakenly sighted moon on Ganesha Chaturthi then he should chant following Mantra to get rid of the curse –

सिंहः प्रसेनमवधीत्सिंहो जाम्बवता हतः।
सुकुमारक मारोदीस्तव ह्येष स्यमन्तकः॥
Sinhah Prasenamavadhitsinho Jambavata Hatah।
Sukumaraka Marodistava Hyesha Syamantakah॥
Sep
15
Sun
2024
Onam
Sep 15 all-day
Onam

Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. Onam is Malayali festival which is celebrated by native speakers of Malayalam. Onam is the National festival of Kerala and it is celebrated by the people of the State with great enthusiasm and happiness. Onam day is decided based on Solar Calendar. Onam is celebrated in Chingam month (August – September) on Malayalam Solar Calendar. Chingam month is known as Simha month in other solar calendars and Avani month in Tamil Calendar. The day when Nakshatra Thiruvonam prevails in month of Chingam is considered for Onam celebrations. Thiruvonam Nakshatra is known as Shravana in other Hindu Calendars. It is the biggest festival celebrated with joy and enthusiasm by people of all communities in Kerala, with four days of State holiday.

During the reign of mighty asura (demon) king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Every body in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects. Apart from all his virtues, Mahabali had one shortcoming. He was egoistic. This weakness in Mahabali’s character was utilized by Gods to bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali’s growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached. The festival commemorates the appearance of Vamana avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent home coming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali. Onam celebrates the Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala (the underworld). On Thiruvonam day, Asura King Mahabali is believed to visit every Malayali home and meet his people.

The celebrations of Onam start on Atham day (the day when Atham Nakshatra prevails) and continue for 10 days till Thiruvonam day. Atham Nakshatra is known as Hasta Nakshatra in other Hindu Calendars.

Rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten day long festival. It is indeed a treat to be a part of the grand carnival. People of Kerala make elaborate preparations to celebrate it in the best possible manner. Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali,the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.

Oct
11
Fri
2024
Durga Maha Navami
Oct 11 all-day
Durga Maha Navami

Mahanavami is celebrated on Ashwin Shukla Paksha Navami, the ninth and the final day of Durga Navratri or Durga Puja. On Maha Navami Goddess Durga is worshipped as Mahisasuramardini which means the Annihilator of the Buffalo Demon. It is believed that on Maha Navami day goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura. On this day, the goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Aparajita also, by offering her sugarcane stalks. Matangi Dasamahavidya too, is worshipped on Mahanavami as a part of Dasamahavidya pooja in Navratri. Mukteshwari is the Goddess to be worshipped on ninth day of Navratri as part of Saptamatrika and Ashtamatrika puja. Goddess Siddhidatri puja is performed on Mahanavami day, by the Navadurga Shakteya sampradaaya people.

The precise rule is that if Ashtami and Navami merge before Sanyakal on Ashtami Tithi then Ashtami Puja and Navami Puja including Sandhi Puja are done on the same day. Navami Homa is performed on Maha Navami and it is the significant ritual during Durga Puja.

In the northern part of India, Kanya Pujan is observed on this day. Their feet are washed, kumkumis applied on the forehead and given gifts and new clothes by the worshippers. While in Gujarat, Mahanavmi is celebrated with Garba and dandiya raas as other eight days of Navratri. In the east, Navami is of great significance in Bengal as it is the last day of Durga Puja. In the southern region of India, Suhasini Puja is performed. Married women, a symbol of Maha Shakti, are offered the Shodasopachara Puja. Followers of Dus Mahavidyas worship Matangi on this day and Maa Siddhidhatri is worshipped by Navdurga Sampradaya followers.

Durga Mahashtami
Oct 11 all-day
Durga Mahashtami

Maha Ashtami, also known as Maha Durgashtami is one of the most Auspicious days of Durga Puja and Navratri Celebration. It is celebrated on 8th day of Navratri which falls on the Ashtami Tithi of Chaitra month according to Hindu Calendar. On Maha Ashtami nine small pots are installed and nine Shaktis of Durga are invoked in them. All nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during Maha Ashtami Puja. Durga Ashtami is also known as Astra Puja as on this day, the weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped.

Young unmarried girls, being treated as Goddess Durga itself, are also worshipped on Maha Ashtami. Worshipping of young girls during Durga Puja is known as Kumari Puja. In many regions Kumari Puja is done during all nine days of Durga Navratri.

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga is the mother of mankind and is believed to be the power behind the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe. The Hindu warrior Goddess Durga is typically portrayed as a beautiful woman with ten arms that bear divine weapons to protect each one of us. Her role in Indian mythology is very strong and powerful. She has been worshipped as the supreme power of the universe. She is a multi-dimensional Goddess, with many names and many persons. On the day of Durga Ashtami, Goddess Durga is worshipped as Maha Gauri, she is considered to be extremely beautiful. She represents calmness and exhibits Wisdom. Her power is unfailing and praying to her is instantly fruitful. The left upper hand holds a ‘Damru’ and the lower one is in the pose of granting boons to her devotees. It is believed that Goddess Kali appeared on this day from the forehead of Durga Maa and annihilated Chanda, Munda and Raktabija who were the demons associated with Mahishasur.

The legendary Sandhi Puja is also falls on Maha Asthami. The time window, commenced in the last 24 minutes of Ashtami Tithi till the first 24 minutes of Navami Tithi is known as Sandhi Time or the holy juncture during Durga Puja. Sandhi time is considered the most auspicious time during whole Durga Puja. Sandhi Puja is the culmination point and the most important ritual of Durga Puja. It is customary to perform Balidan or animal sacrifice at this sacred juncture. Devotees who abstain from animal sacrifice perform symbolic Bali with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin. For Brahmins any type of animal sacrifice is prohibited by scriptures and Brahmin community does only symbolic Bali. Even the famous Belur Math in West Bengal does symbolic Bali with banana during Sandhi Puja. It is customary to light 108 earthen lamps during Sandhi Kaal.