Navratri, a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or “Dussehra.” Navratri is a very important and major festival in the western state of Gujarat and Maharashtra, during which the traditional dance of Gujarat called ‘Garba’ is widely performed.
This festival is celebrated with great zeal in North India as well including Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and the northern state of Punjab. The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother Durga.
The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Navarathri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. The Navarathri festival or ‘Nine Nights festival’ becomes ‘ten days festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshiped with fervor and devotion.
The Navaratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.