Kumari Puja is a part of Durga Puja. A teenage girl is symbolically worshipped in this ritual. At the end of Mahashtami Puja, Kumari Puja is usually organized at the end of Mahashtami (eighth day after Mahalaya)Puja. In many places of India, Kumari Puja is performed at the end of Navaratri(nineth day after Mahalaya). Kumari Puja can also be organized in some other Puja festival of Divine Mother like Kali Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja, Annapurna Puja etc.
Photo credit: Daily Bangladesh
Story Behind Kumari Puja
According to Hindu scriptures, Goddess Kali, another form of Divine Mother, killed a demon named Kalasura. According to the legend, once Kalasura took possession of heaven and expelled the gods from heaven. Then the helpless gods approached Mahakali for help. Responding to their desperate pleas, Goddess Kali was born as a maiden and killed Kalasura.
Significance of Kumari Puja
The rituals of Kumari Puja is very important to the Shakta devotees (the devotees of Hindu Shakta sect). Hindu Shakta devotees believe that Kumari Puja will bring good for them and keep them free from all dangers. The philosophical basis of Kumari Puja is the empowerment of women. The Kumari (maiden) worshipped in the ritual of Kumari Puja symbolizes the seed of the powers that regulate creation, stability and destruction.
Kumari Puja in Scriptures
The significance of Kumari Puja have been narrated in detail in many Hindu scriptures. Among these, Yoginitantra, Kularnavatantra, Devipurana, Stotra, Kavacha, Sahasranama, Tantrasara, Prantosini and Purohitadarpana etc. are mentionable.
Ramkrishna Mission and Kumari Puja
Kumari Puja performance on the occasion of Durga Puja arranged by Ramakrishna Mission is very popular among the Hindu Shakta devotees. Swami Vivekananda, who established Ramkrishna Mission and Math, started Durga Puja at Belur Math. It is known that in the first year, nine maidens (Kumari) were worshipped together. Swami Vivekananda himself worshipped one of them (Kumari).
Source of idea: Banglapaedia
Talker: Krishna Das