Ashtami falls on the eight-day of Navratri and is considered as one of the most significant of all the nine days of festivities and prayers. It is believed that on this day goddess Durga killed the evil bull Mahishasur. Therefore, this day is a symbol of victory of good over the evil. Maha Aasthami is celebrated on the second day of Durga Puja. Ashtami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja which is very similar to Saptami Puja, according to The Indian Express. During Maha Ashtami, devotees perform Kumari puja in which young and unmarried girls are worshipped. Durga Ashtami will be celebrated on 28 September. Devotees observe the ritualistic fasts to please their beloved deity, according to asthaoradhyatm.in.
Devotees perform several rituals on the day of Ashtami, like ‘Astra Puja’, which is a custom to worship Goddess Durga’s weapons. It is believed that Goddess Kali appeared from Durga’s forehead to annihilate Mahishasura’s demons – Chanda, Munda and Rakthabija. Therefore on this day, Ashta Nayikas is worshipped in the form of Durga, as per NDTV. The Ashtami puja begins with the Mahasnan which is followed by the Shodashopachar Puja. In this puja, nine earthen pots are placed in the center and worshipped. The ritual is said to invoke the nine forms of Durga, as per NDTV.Maha Ashtami holds immense significance for the five days of Durga Puja. Devotees observe fast and perform puja wearing new clothes early in the morning. Many puja pandals serve special ‘Ashtami Bhog’. Khichdi, papad, payesh, chutney and roshogolla etc are served as bhog to the goddess.