Durgashtami Puja or Durga Ashtami pooja is observed on the eighth day during Durga Navratri Puja. Durgashtami, also known as Maha Ashtami and Veerashtami, is celebrated on eighth day during Ashwin month (Ashwayuja Shukla Ashtami). In 2013, Durga Ashtami date is October 12.
Durgashtami is also known as Veerashtami because on this day Arjuna has taken out his Ayudha (weapons) from Shami tree. Ayudha Puja or Astra Puja is the main ritual on Durgashtami or Mahashtami day.
Important Puja rituals to perform on Durgashtami:
On Durgashtami day, Saptamatrikas, Ashtamatrikas and 64 Yoginis are worshipped. Ashtamatrika Pooja during Durga Navratri is most fruitful observance as per Yogis and Sadhaks.
Mahagauri is the Navadurga Goddess to worship on Durgashtami day. Maha Gauri Puja is also one of the main pujas to perform on Durgashtami. In some places, Goddess Bagala or Goddess Narayani is worshipped on Durgashtami.
In Andhra Pradesh, a special regional festival called Bathukamma Panduga (Bathukamma Festival) is observed. Bathukamma Visarjanam (nimajjanam) is performed on Durgashtami.
On Mahashtami day, in some rural areas in India, Janthu Bali (animal sacrifices) are performed. It is to be noted that Hindu culture and Hindu scriptures do not encourage this type of rude devotions and ridiculous traditions.