Maha Ashtami 2019: Significance of Kanya Puja During Navaratri
It is a Hindu belief which says that Goddess Durga resides in little girls and this is an important feature of Navratri. Kanya Puja or Kanjak Puja is conducted to worship nine young girls as nine forms of Goddess Durga, also known as Navadurga. Kanya Puja is celebrated on the eighth or ninth day of Navaratri.
The ritual of Kanya Puja celebrates the Hindu philosophy, which believes in the universal creative forces to be female gender. Legend has it that it was on the ninth day of Navaratri that Shakti had taken the form of Goddess Durga, on the request of the Gods to kill the demon. As per Hindu philosophy, these girls are considered as the manifestation of the natural force of creation.
There is a caste-based belief also involved while worshipping the nine girls. If the worshiper is desirous of acquiring knowledge then he should worship a Brahmin girl child. If he is desirous of acquiring power, then he should worship a Kshatriya-girl child. Similarly, if he is desirous of acquiring wealth and prosperity, then a girl child belonging to a Vaishya family should be worshipped by him.
The nine avatars of Goddess Durga who are worshipped during Navaratri are:
1) Goddess Shailputri
2) Goddess Brahmacharini
3) Goddess Chandraghanta
4) Goddess Kushmanda
5) Goddess Skandmata
6) Goddess Katyayani
7) Goddess Kaalratri
8) Goddess Mahagauri
9) Goddess Siddhidatri
Procedure to conduct Kanya Puja
Nine little girls are invited and their feet are washed upon their arrival. They are made to sit on a pedestal and a holy thread is tied around their wrists. Then they are served the traditional offering of Goddess Durga- halwa, puri and chana. They are also given gifts and money. The puja ends after everybody touches their feet and seeks their blessing.