Navratri (in Sanskrit meaning Nine Nights) is the celebration of the feminine divine. During this festival nine forms of Shakti or Devi are worshiped. She is the ultimate embodiment of creative energy and celebrating her is considered most auspicious. This is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus and is celebrated all over India and the opportunity arrives twice a year: in the beginning of spring and autumn.
Just as India is a land of many languages and cultures, the celebration of Navratri too takes various forms. In West Bengal, the last four days are celebrated as Durga Puja where exquisitely decorated life size clay dolls of the Goddess depicted as slaying the demon Mahisasura are set up and on the fifth day are immersed in the river.
In Maharashtra and Gujarat, the festival is celebrated with the energetic Garba and Dandiya Raas dances.
In South India steps are set up and decorated with dolls in an arrangement called Golu.
The festival culminates in on the tenth day in Vijayadashami meaning ‘victory on the tenth day’ which refers to Lord Rama’s victory over the ten headed demon Ravana as well as that of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasura.