Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Ashoka Ashtami

Ashoka Ashtami is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated with great fervour in India. This festival is devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. According to the Hindu calendar, Ashoka Ashtami is observed on the ‘Ashtami’ (8th day) during the Shukla Paksha (the waxing phase of moon) in the month of ‘Chaitra’. It falls during the propitious ‘Chaitra Navratri’ festival. In the Gregorian calendar this date corresponds to the months of March to April. Ashoka Ashtami is observed as a car festival in Orissa and other eastern regions of India. It is held that Lord Rama completed the Ashoka Ashtami rituals before starting the final attack on Ravana. It is celebrated in a grand manner in the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar and the festivities last for a period of seven days. This day also holds great significance in some of the southern states of India. Ashoka Ashtami is a festival that marks the triumph of good over evil.

Rituals during Ashoka Ashtami:


  • The main deity of worship on Ashoka Ashtami is Goddess Shakti. On this day, Hindu devotees worship Goddess Shakti to seek Her divine blessings for a happy and prosperous life.
  • Ashoka Ashtami is a festival dedicated to Lord Lingaraj. On this auspicious day Sri Chandrasekhara, the representative deity of Lord Lingaraj is taken out on a car. This chariot is then taken to the temple of Rameswara and the event is witnessed by thousands of devotees from all corners of the country. This ratha yatra or the car festival is a popular event of the state of Orissa.
  • On this day, religious fairs are organized. The Ashoka Ashtami Fair is held at Unakoti Tirtha of Kailashahar Sub-Division of Tripura. As a part of celebrations, special pujas are offered to the images of Gods and Goddesses engraved on the hilly rocks. Pilgrims in large numbers from Orissa and neighbouring states attend the Ashoka Ashtami Fair.

Significance of Ashoka Ashtami:

The importance of Ashoka Ashtami is mentioned in several Hindu Puranas. The word ‘Ashoka’ implies ‘one without sorrow’ while ‘ashtami’ signifies ‘eight day’. Hence Ashoka Ashtami is celebrated as the day when the sorrows of Lord Rama were relieved by Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti. According to the legends, when Lord Rama was unable to defeat Ravana in the great battle, He worshipped Shiva and Goddess Shakti to seek their blessings. Pleased with Lord Rama’s dedication, Goddess Parvati blessed Him and the following day, Lord Ram killed the demon king Ravana with the ‘Brahmastra’. From then onwards this victory is celebrated with immense zeal and enthusiasm by taking out a procession on the ‘Ashtami’ day of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.