One of the most important rituals of Durga Puja is that of Sandhi Puja which is performed at a very important period. It is done at the exact juncture when the asthami tithi ends and the navami tithi starts.
Sandhi Puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of asthami till the first 24 minutes of navami. This period is called Sandhi Kaal. There is an interesting legend behind the worship of the Goddess in this period.
Legend behind Sandhi Puja (Story)
The legend behind Sandhi Puja dates to the time when Goddess was engaged in a fierce battle with Mahishasura. During the battle, Chanda and Munda attacked the Devi. Then a very fierce Goddess emerged from the third eye of the goddess who had red eyes and a bloddy tongue. This was the form of Goddess Chamunda who killed the demons Chanda and Munda at the juncture of asthami and navami.
To commemorate this feat of the Goddess, Sandhi Puja is performed at the exact juncture of the last 24 minutes of asthami and the first 24 minutes of navami.
People perform the Sandhi puja by offering 108 lotus flowers to the Goddess and fruits and rice grain for noibiddo is prepared for the puja. Then 108 earthern lamps are lit in front of the idol of the Goddess. This is a very important ritual of the Sandhi Puja.
Then the worship continues with the offerings of clothes, jewellary, flowers and bel leaves and mantras to the Goddess.