One of the most important ritual of Durga Puja is the Sandhi Puja. It is performed at the exact juncture when the Asthami tithi ends and Navami tithi begins. The last 24 minutes of Ashtami and first 24 minutes of Navami is regarded as the ‘sandhikhan’. This is the exact time period at which Devi Durga slayed ‘mahishashura’ and became ‘mahishashur mardini’.
Legend says ‘Devi Durga‘ appeared in front of the errant ‘Mahishashura’ in a form of beautiful golden woman. She was clad in a golden saree and held different weapons in each of her ten hands. When the battle was going on between Goddess Durga and ‘Mahishashura’, his allies ‘Chondo’ and ‘Munda’ attacked the Goddess from behind. The Goddess was so enraged by this breach of battle rules that her face turned blue. She opened her third eye and ‘Chamunda’ avatar sprang out. This avatar was a form of the blood curdling Goddess Kali. ‘Chamunda’ slayed ‘Chondo’ and ‘Munda’ with her falchion. ‘Sandhi Puja’ is celebrated to worship the ‘Devi Chamunda’ form of Goddess Durga.
On the eve of Navami make your final offering to Goddess Durga.
The arrangements for ‘Sandhi Puja’ are usually grand. 108 lotuses and 108 ‘pradips’ or earthern oil lamps are two primary items needed for the puja. Single whole fruits, uncooked rice grains, saree are a part of the offering. Apart from these hibiscus garland, aparajita garland and a garland of 108 bel leaves is needed.
The timing of the ‘Sandhi Puja’ is very important and must be maintained with dedication. Drum beats of ‘dhaks’ often mark the beginning of the puja and the different tempo of the drum beat marks the different stages of the battle.
This video contains the complete ritual of ‘Sandhi Puja’.