Ashtami of Vijaya Dashami
श्वेते वृषे समारुढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः ।
महागौरी शुभं दघान्महादेवप्रमोददा ॥
The Goddess is in the form of eight-year old child with complexion as fair as a conch, moon and jasmine. Her clothes and ornaments are white and pure. She has three eyes and four arms. Her right upper hand is in the pose of allaying fear and right lower hand holds a trident in it. The left upper hand holds a tambourine and the lower one is in the pose of blessing. All sins of devotees are washed away due to her worship. Her power is unfailing and instantly fruitful.
The eighth day of Vijayadashami is called Maha Asthami. Durga Bhawani and Kali mata (different names and incarnations) are worshiped with very high dedication. People sacrifice animals to Goddess.
Some Hindu devotees observe fasting in Asthami. The night of Astahmi is called “Kal Ratri” (the dark night). Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed on Kali’s temples and households. The sacrifice continues till dawn and even till dusk. The puja continues with feasts in most of the celebration homes. People in Kathmandu generally makes syabaji In this day. Syabaji, roasted beaten rice, is a traditional Nepali food.
Asthami is on Ashwin Sukla Asthami based on tithi according to Hindu Lunar Calendar. Asthami is the eighth day of Vijaya Dashami. This year Maha Asthami is on Ashwin 16, 2071. That is October 2, 2014 in Gregorian calendar.
Asthami is also known as Durgasthami and Veerasthami. It is celebrated on Ashwayuja Shukla Asthami. It is said - Arjun, one of Pandav's brothers, took his Ayudha (weapons) from Shami tree after 14 years of exile from his country and performed puja of the weapons on this day. Ayudha Puja or Astra Puja is the main ritual on Durgasthami or Mahasthami day. People perform weapons pooja on this day.
On Asthami, Goddess Bhadrakali, the powerful and fierce form of Goddess Parvati was incarnated. She appeared along with the rest of Yoginis to increase fear in Mahishasur and defeat him. In Sanskrit Durga means the undefeatable. She is also called Mahishasur Marshini because she killed Mahisasur.
Saptamatrikas, Ashtamatrikas and 64 Yoginis are worshipped on Maha Asthami . Asthamatrika Pooja during Navratri is most fruitful performance for Yogis and Sadhaks.
Asthami is also day of Goddess Mahagauri of the Navadurga Goddess. Maha Gauri Puja is also one of the main pujas of Ashtami.
There is no trace in Hindu culture and Hindu scriptures that allows people to sacrifice animals. Killings are always forbidden in Hindu religion. However, there is a long tradition of sacrificing animals to Kali (Durga Bhawani) during Viajay Dashami festival.