Durga Ashtami or Maha Ashtami is one of the most auspicious days of the five days long Durga Puja Festival. This year, it would be celebrated on 6th October.
Ashta Puja or Ashtami is also known as Virashtami. This is because all the weapons are worshipped on this day with a showcase of martial arts. As an answer to the prayers of the gods and humans, Ma Durga decided to obliterate the demon Mahishasura, the buffalo-faced giant. As she prepared for the war, all the gods gave their holy weapons and powers to Ma Durga. All of those weapons were then shown deep reverence to and further handed over to Ma Durga on the day of Ashtami and thus the name, Astra Puja. This portrays the valor and courage of Ma Durga.
On the day of Ashtami, Ma Kali appeared from the face of Ma Durga. The Ashtanayikas, also known as the eight elements of Ma Durga emerged from her and played their roles in their own respective roles in the war. As part of the Navratri Puja, Ashtami is important in worshipping the 64 Yoginis, Ma Kali, Ma Durga and the Ashtanayikas.