The ‘Maha Ashtami’, which is also known as Durgasthami or Veerasthami is the eighth and one of the most important days of the Dashain festival. In this day Goddess Durga (which means undefeatable in Sanskrit) and Goddess Kali are worshipped with dedication. The Kali Mata is fierce, is in the form of eight year old child who have a fair complexion mixed as that of conch, moon and jasmine. She is believed to destruct the bad ones or who comes in her way, and it has been the tradition that thousands of buffaloes, goats, pigeons and ducks are sacrificed in temples to make her happy (sacrifice is always forbidden in all Hindu scriptures though, it has only been the tradition for sacrifice). There are feasts usually in the houses where sacrifices is done. It is the wide belief that devoted worship of Goddesses Durga Bhawani and Kali Mata washes all the sin away. The night of the day is therefore, called as Kal Ratri (in the name of Kali Mata), which means the dark night. People worship their weapons in this day, which is called Astra Puja. Maha Gauri Puja is also done as well.
The hymn for the Ashtami pooja, or simply to be called Ashtami Mantra:
श्वेते वृषे समारुढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः ।
महागौरी शुभं दघान्महादेवप्रमोददा ॥