Navratri: Why do we do Kumari Poojan on Ashtami/Navmi?
The festive fervour of Hindu devotees during the nine days of Navratri reaches its zenith on the last two days of this auspicious festival. On the final two days, Ashtami and Navmi, the devotees close the celebration with the ritual of Kumari Poojan or Kanjak Poojan, which involves feeding seven to nine young girls, who are believed to be a manifestation of the nine forms of goddess Shakti.
The nine days of Navratri are dedicated to celebrating the feminine divinity of the nine forms of Shakti. After fasting for eight or nine days, young girls are invited to the devotees’ houses, where they wash their feet as a mark of respect, and then offer food to them. The food, which is also called bhog, often includes poori, chanaa and halwa. It is after feeding the young girls and sending them away with gifts, that devotees break their fast.
Legend has it that it was on the ninth day that Shakti had taken the form of goddess Durga, on the request of the devtas, to kill a demon called Kalasura, who had been causing a ruckus all over the world. Goddess Durga is also known by the name of Kumari, and is the strongest of all the forms. Hence, on the ninth day, to honour the strength she embodies, Kumari Poojan is performed.
The goddess had killed the demon on the 10th day, which is celebrated as Vijaya Dashmi, the victory of good over the evil, throughout the country.
Source: India Today