The Metro guide to understanding and enjoying Ashtami 2008 better...
What is Kumari puja, held on Ashtami?
Its the worship of a virgin, who should be between one and 16 years old, not married, of good temperament and who has not begun to menstruate. She is bathed, dressed in new clothes, adorned with flowers and worshipped as the living goddess. Head for Belur Math, where the ritual is observed famously.
When can you offer anjali today? Is it really important to fast before anjali?
From 8.30am to 2pm. It is important to fast, if you want to offer anjali the right way. If health does not permit it, Markandeyapurana prescribes minimal food. The food inside (or outside) should not keep you from focusing on the puja.
What is Sandhi puja?
Sandhi puja takes place over the last 24 minutes of Mahashtami and the first 24 minutes of Mahanavami, hence the name. Durga is worshipped in her ferocious Chandi avatar during this time, which is why the sacrifice (of an ox or goat) is scheduled to take place during the ritual, at exactly the midpoint between Ashtami and Navami, to propitiate the goddess. This year Sandhi puja will be performed between 12.05am and 12.53am (Gupta Press almanac) and 3.17am and 4.05am (Bisuddha Siddhanta almanac).
Which places should I visit? Can I ask questions about puja themes?
Do the south leg on Ashtami Badamtala (catch a glimpse of Preity Zinta if youre lucky or at least Mithunda), Mudiali, Shib Mandir and 66 Palli. Then head towards snack address Aabar Khabo in Kalighat and gobble up yummy telebhaja.
Do not ask too many questions. For example, if the puja theme is mahashunya (space), as it is at Babubagan, do not ask why the goddess is flying off into space. Do not ask what all of that has to do with Aryabhatta discovering zero. If the theme is ashray (shelter), do not ask why the entire pandal must look like a forest. Are wild animals alone entitled to shelter?
Metro Rail timings?
2pm to 4am, trains available at intervals of 8 to 20 minutes.
What to wear and what to eat?
Fashion clue of the day is kurtas and sherwanis . If you have pizzas for dinner in mind, remember the 30-minute delivery time is not valid now. But the toppings should remain the same.
What to watch out for?
The final round of judging for CESC The Telegraph True Spirit Awards.
What is a must-do on Ashtami?
Be attracted to a boy/girl or dada/boudi. No crush, no Ashtami.