Navaratri, a nine day-long festival, is observed in many Indian states with much aplomb. According to the Hindu calendar, the festival is celebrated in the month of Ashvin, which typically falls in September and October as per the Gregorian calendar.
People all across the country, mainly in the northern and western region, gear up for festival with new clothes, elaborate decoration, dances and fasts.
Navratri is made up of the two words — ‘nav’ which nine and ‘ratri’ which means night — and is observed to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana.
During the festival period, Ramlila — which is the re-enactment of the story Lord Rama — is organised, and on the final day,
when Rama ‘kills’ Ravana with his bow, the festival is culminated by burning effigies of Ravana and his brothers Meghnad and Kumbhakaran.
During the festival, people dress up in traditional clothing, observe fasts, offer prayers to the lord and distribute sweets to relatives and friends.
In the eastern and north-eastern states of India, the celebration is referred to as Durga Puja. It is believed, that Goddess Durga battled with demon Mahishasura and emerged victorious. It is then that the day was marked to honour the divine Devi and celebrated, thereafter.
The occasion of Durga Puja is celebrated with thousands of temporary stages called pandals where the idol of Goddess Durga is placed for her followers to offer their prayers and seek blessings.
The first day of the festival, Mahalaya begins with remembering Durga. It marks the end of the period of Shradhh or Pitri-Paksha.
This year, Navratri begins on September 29 and ends on October 7,]
and the 10th day that is Vijayadashami and Dussehra falls on October 8.