Bhubaneswar: Devotees are thronging several puja pandals and Shakti Pithas on the occasion of the 'Maha Ashtami Puja' of Goddess Durga across Odisha today. Clad in new sarees, women devotees queued in front of various puja pandals to perform special pujas and offer their reverence to Devi Durga on the special day today.
Maha Ashtami or Durga Ashtami is considered to be the most important day of Durga Puja. Usually, the day begins with mangala aarti and pushpanjali which is followed by other rituals at the pandals. However, the special ‘Sandhi Puja’ is considered to be the day's highlight, which is performed when the Ashtami tithi ends. It is believed that Devi Chamunda (one of Goddess Durga's eight consorts) appears to slay demons, Chanda and Munda, during this time.
As per the rituals on the Maha Ashtami day ‘Astra Puja’ is also performed, where the weapons of the Goddess are worshiped.
On the occasion of Maha Saptami on Saturday, devotees made beelines at various mandaps and pandals in the Twin Cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. According to reports, the festival is being observed in 172 pandals in Bhubaneswar and 162 mandaps in Cuttack.
The Commissionerate Police has also beefed up security measures in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack while several traffic restrictions were clamped on the occasion.
Earlier, the Commissionerate Police relaxed the timings of musical shows in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The puja committees have been allowed to organise musical programmes till midnight instead of earlier restriction of 10 PM.