Masik Durgastami Vrat
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Masik Durga Ashtami Vrat
Masik Durgashtami or the monthly Durgashtami occurs during the eight day (Ashtami Tithi) of the bright half of the lunar month (Shukla Paksha). This day is said to be very auspicious for the worshp of Goddess Durga. Devotees show their devotion by observing a day-long fast that stretches from morning till evening. Devotees perform a customary puja to Mother Durga as per the directions given in the scriptures. This is one of the most popular kinds of vrats observed in the Hindu tradition which confers the ultimate blessings of Mother Durga.
Though the Durgashtami occurs every month and the vrat can be observed on these days, the most important one of the year falls on the day called “Mahashtami”, the Ashtami day occurring in the months of October – November (Ashwin). This is the time when the Sharada Navratri festival is celebrated with great fervour for a period of nine days. Those intending to observe the vrat on Masik Durgashtami usually perform the month puja in a simple way while performing an elaborate puja on the Mahashtami.
On this day of Durgashtami, people offer their prayers to the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga with abundant religious fervour. The dishes that are specially prepared at home and offered to Mother Durga during the puja include Kheer, Ladoos, Halwa and others.
In the Durgashtami puja tradition, there is a usual practice of worshipping a small girl child (kanya Pooja) signifying the nine manifestations of Mother Durga. During the puja, the chosen girl is offered a new dress, food and tamboola (betel leaf and nut) in a way propitiating Mother Durga.
Durga Puja is dedicated to nava Durga – the nine manifestation of Mother Durga namely ashta dasa buja Mahalakshmi. This is one of the most benevolent and pleasing manisfestations of Durga that to bless the devotees and relieve them of their sufferings. Accordingly, those who observe the Masik Durgashtami with sincerity as propagated in the shastras have reaped great results as assured in the scriptures.
In the typical puja, ghata stapana, setting up of Ghat or holy pot is established on an altar. Usually, a copper pot is recommended for this though other variants like panchaloga (combination of five metals), silver or earthen pots are also allowed as per availability. The pot is filled with water and spices inside and mango leaves and coconut are kept on top of it with the face pointing downwards. An image of Mother Durga is installed on the coconut or the Ghat.
The Pooja starts with offering a seat to the deity, followed by a vastra (dress) and other upacharas. This process installs the Shakti of Mother Durga in the Ghat set up. Once everything is in place the devotee who is observing the vrat starts doing archana (offering flowers to the idol of Mother Durga) while chanting the divine names of Mother Gauri. The divine names for archana are either 108 (ashtotra) or 1008 names (sahasranama). The puja includes divine bath and sixteen types of offerings to the idol. Panchamrit – a mix of five items that includes curd, milk, honey, cow’s ghee and sugar is the most important offferng of this puja. Some of the typical offerings made include fruits, dry fruits and resins, betel leaves and nuts, cloves and cardamom. At the end of the puja, arti or waving of camphor is done seven times.
The end of the puja is marked by kanya Pooja – inviting nine small girls, washing their feet with holy water and performing puja to them with offerings. Once all this is over, the day long fast is completed by invoking the blessings of Mother Durga.
Benefits of Masik Durga Ashtami Vrat
Removal of bad karmas of past lives.
Promote the birth of children and to stop miscarriages and abortions.
Improve love and relationship, self-confidence and courage.
For protection from disease and bring wealth and prosperity.
The Mythical Saying about the Mahastami
As per mythology, Durga was a creation of the joint divine spells of the Tridev, viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. She incarnated as the most powerful and beautiful Goddess with ten weapons in her ten arms and having Lion as her Vahana. The devas (celestial beings) had been once terrified by the oppression of a demon named Mahisasura, who had obtained the boon from Brahma wherein his death would be brought about by a female and that seemed impossible to the devil. Legends has it that when the celestial headed by Indra was defeated by the devil, the Tridev decided to create Durga. It is this divine feminine who slayed the Mahisasura on the day of Durga Ashtami with her trident.
There are also other stories prevalent in the community about the origin of the festivity. Among those, there is a very famous story of how Rama worshipped Shakti, before the war waged with Ravana to rescue Sita, and how the female deity was invoked and bestowed him with immense ability to kill the evil king. Therefore make the most of this significant Tithi and perform sacred ritual with Puja, Silver Items or brass items to invoke the female manifestation of Divine Might.
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