Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam performs Kumari pooja, which is most popular in Bengal, during the Dasara festival.
As part of the ritual, the temple priests offer prayers to a kumari, a girl who has not attained the age of 11 years and puberty, treating her as manifestation of goddess Kanaka Durga. A girl less than 1-year age is also stated to be ineligible for the kumari pooja as she would not understand the ‘gandhadhi bhogalu’.
According to legends and epics, the goddess appears in nine different forms in the girl child. The legend says, ‘Eka varsha nakartavya kumari poja vidhou nripa/ parama gnathu bhoganam gandhadheenantha balika// kumarika tusaa prokta dwivarsha ya bhavediha/trimurthisha trivarshacha kalyani chaturabdika// rohini pancha varshacha shdvarsha kalika smritha/chandika saptavarshasya dushtha varsha cha sambhavi.’
By offering prayers to a kumari gives education, health, fulfilment of wishes, etc. A two-year girl is known as kumari, and three year girl as Trimurthi; four years (Kalyani), five years (Rohini), six years (Kali), seven years (Chandika); eight years (Sambhavi); nine years (Durga) and 10 years (Subhadra). A prayer to kumari eradicates poverty and sorrow. Trimurthi is for long life, while Kalyani is for education and rajabhoga. Worshipping Rohini helps in roga nasha, and Kali to defeat the enemy; Sambhavi for rajyapoojyamaina dheesakhti knowledge. Durga to achieve the difficult things and Subhadra gives all the wishes.
Lord Srirama is stated to have performed this pooja Sun will be in kumari raasi during Aswiyuja maasa, and the stars visible – are female stars.
So, the feminine gods are worshipped during this period, explain temple priests.