Millions of devotees are celebrating Ashtami— the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri on October 24. The nine day-long festivities began from October 17 this year. Various puja rituals and aarti are performed on Ashtami to please Goddess Mahagauri. Most communities, especially in the northern part of India, hold Kanjak, Kanya Puja or Kanya Bhoj on this day. Kanya or Kanjak puja is conducted to worship Maa Durga. Little girls are regarded as symbolic of Mother Goddess’ avatars on this day. They are welcomed and served special bhog. They are invited at homes and offered Prasad – a meal of puri, kala chana, coconut and halwa.
History of Kanya Pujan
Little girls are believed to be the avatar of Goddess Durga on earth and worshipped on Durga Ashtami and Maha Navmi. In Hindu religious beliefs, it is said that praying forth a human gets better results compared to praying to God. Children across the universe are considered the purest form of humans. So people hold Kanya Puja to worship and acknowledge the pure soul.
Importance of Kanya Pujan
According to Devi Bhagwat Purana, it is believed that by worshiping girls, devotees will receive the real merit of their prayers. Especially those who observe nine-day long fast must worship a girl child at the end of Navratri.
How to do Kanya Bhoj
Traditionally, the Kanya pujan is performed by devotees on either the day of Ashtami or Navmi. Little girls, who are specially invited are hailed as the manifestations of the Maa Durga. Devotees wash the feet of the girls who epitomize the nine forms of Maa Durga.
A red thread is tied around the wrist and red kumkum is put on the forehead by the devotees. The devotees then offer new clothes, and other shringar items along with a feast that is served. The girls are also offered coins, small gifts like stationery items such as colour pencils, crayons and books.
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