Ashoka Ashtami is the festival ascribed to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. The term “Ashoka” means “without sorrow”[a shoka]. Hence this festival marks the significance of the victory of goodness over evil.
Ashoka Ashtami occurs on the Shukla Paksha Ashtami of Chaitra month. This also forms part of the Chaitra Navratri festival.
For 2021, the festival falls on Tuesday, 20th April 2021. The exact duration of the Ashtami Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendar.
Ashoka Ashtami – Legend
There is a legend associated with this festival.
Lord Rama made several attempts to destroy Ravana in the war. However, despite all the valour, Lord Rama could not overcome Ravana.
Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana told Rama that Ravan was protected by the blessings of Sri Shiva and Sri Shakthi. He also told Rama that He should also pray to Sri Shiv and Sri Shakthi before embarking on the final war against Ravan.
It is believed that Lord Ram had performed Puja on Sri Shiv and Sri Shakthi at the Lingaraj Temple at Orissa for seven days. On the eighth day, which was the Ashtami day, He had taken out the procession of Sri Shiv and Sri Shakthi. Pleased with His prayers, Sri Parvathi had blessed and wished success to Him.
Finally, Lord Rama was able to defeat Ravana.
Ashoka Ashtami – Temple festivals
In Lingaraj Temple at Orissa, Ashoka Ashtami is celebrated as seven-day festival. Most of the temples in Orissa and eastern part of India observe temple Rath Yatra festivals on this day.
Fairs are also held in many places. Images of Gods and Goddesses are engraved on the hilly rocks and special pujas are done.