Ashtami always brings back fond memories to me.
My mom used to fast for 9 days during navratri and on the 8th day that is Ashtami, she would do the Kanya pooja or Kanjakein. She would invite 9 girls or more depending on the number of little girls, who were our friends or neighbours. Little boys were also invited so as to not make them feel left out. But the chief guests were the Little girls. These girls were invited home with love, their feet were washed and decorated with haldi-kumkum and aalta. The holy thread was tied to their tiny wrists and then they were all made to sit in a line and a group aarti was performed for all of them. And then came the best part. Then they were all served the traditional bhog of Halwa-Poori- Chane! And there were also gifts – money or bangles, toys or something appealing .
And this scene was repeated so many times that day and the next day because in our colony and also at most other places that we stayed at there were so many women fasting for navratri and performing this pooja on either Ashtami or Navmi( the 9th day). I remember feeling so important on those two days .Mom would wake us up early, give us a nice oil massage and bath, and then dress us up in new clothes.And then we would be ready to visit all the different aunties in the colony,armed with an empty lunch box!She always said -She was so lucky two have to Devis at home! And we would giggle at that.
Now that I am having a little girl,I know what she meant.My mom would do this ritual only during the Badi navratri- the one preceeding Dushera.But I know a lot of other women who did it even during the Choti navratri, the one preceeding Ram Navmi. And year I decided to start a new tradition and make halwa-poori-chole Prasad even for the choti Ashtami.
- 1 cup Semolina
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups water +1 cup milk- boiled
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- almonds, soaked and slivered
- Saffaron strands for Garnish.