Maha Ashtami celebrations draw crowds in Delhi

New Delhi, Apr 18: Hundreds of devotees in Delhi offered special prayers at temples on the occasion of the Maha Asthami on Thursday, which marks the penultimate day of the nine-day Navratri festival, dedicated to Hindu mother goddess.

A priest, Ambika Prasad Pant said, “Today seven year old girls are worshipped as mother goddess and it happens in every house. The devotees clean the feet of young girls; apply vermilion on their foreheads. Holy threads are tied on the wrist of their hand and are given a holy cloth for worship. The girls on this day are also served with special meal after the people worship the mother goddess. By performing these rituals, it is believed that Mother Goddess becomes happy and fulfills everyone’s wishes.”

A large number of devotees queued outside the Jhandewalan temple in Delhi since early morning to seek the blessings of the goddess.

On this auspicious day, young girls, mainly nine in number representing the nine forms of goddess are regarded as “devis” or Goddesses and are invited to many homes in the morning.

As part of the celebration they are served a special offering of black gram and sweets. A small gift in the form of some money along with red bangles and a holy red cloth is also given to the girls.

Devotees perform these rituals with an aim to appease the Mother Goddess and hope that all their wishes would be fulfilled.

The eighth-day of the festival is dedicated to the goddess ‘Maha Gauri’ that represents calmness and exhibits wisdom.

The ninth day is dedicated to goddess Durga (Mother goddess), who is depicted as a powerful deity, riding a raging lion, holding aloft ten war weapons in her ten hands.

Her trident is plunged into the side of a monstrous buffalo, out of whose body emerges the dreadful demon or evil.

Legend has it that “Asuras” or demons from the nether world invaded heavens after a hundred years of war. The Hindu trinity of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu created goddess Durga, the most powerful of all gods and goddesses to vanquish the demons.

Celebrating the day with fervour and rejoice, devotees in Jammu and Kashmir were also seen performing religious rituals at the Kali temple.

Priests were seen performing various rituals and religious ceremonies. They also distributed religious sweet offerings and eatables to the gathered devotees.

The devotees have faith in the mother goddess, as they believe that the goddess fulfils their wishes.

The festive fervour continues till Navami – the last day of the festival, which is held in honour of the nine manifestations of Mother Goddess.

It is believed that during the nine days of festival, the devotees must keep their mind, body and thoughts pure.

The nine-night festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of the summer and the other in the beginning of the winter. (ANI)