Ashokashtami is one of the major festivals celebrated in Orissa during Chaitra month. Ashok ashtami is observed on Chaitra Shukla Ashtami, the eighth day in shukla paksha of Chaitra month. In 2013, Ashokashtami date is April 18.
This festival is celebrated with utmost gaiety in Bhubaneswar Lingaraj Temple. On this day, Rathotsavam (procession on chariot) or car festival of Lord Shiva is celebrated which attracts tens of thousands of devotees across the state and from Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh as well.
The legend or the origin of the festival Ashokashtami is associated with Ramayana. When the Ramayana war between Ravana and Ram was going on in a great manner, Lord Ram came to know that Goddess Kali was at Ravanas side and acting like a protective armor to Ravana. Lord Ram prayed to Goddess Kali and demolished Ravana and captured Lanka and brought his spouse Sita back. As part of celebrations, he has taken out Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali to a procession.
Ashokashtami is also known as Chaitra Durgashtami as it falls during Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri.