What is Navratri? The word Navratri literally means nine (nav) nights (ratri) in Sanskrit. During these nine nights and ten days, we worship Goddess Durga who represents Shakti or the female divine energy and purity according to Hinduism. During Navratri, the Goddess is worshiped and honoured in her nine avatars or forms, each with different colours, symbolisms and rituals. Navratri ends with Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) being celebrated on the 10th day, symbolising victory of good over evil. The story goes that a fierce buffalo-headed demon called Mahishasura created havoc everywhere and pursued his evil ways by shape-shifting. To stop him, Shakti took a beautiful form of Durga and told him that she would marry him only if he could defeat her in a battle. It is believed that they battled fiercely for 9 days, and on the 10th day, Durga killed Mahishasura. Therefore the 10th day is called Vijayadashmi, day of the victory and Goddess Durga is also called Mahishasuramardini. Like many other festivals of our country. Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. Offerings are often made to the Goddesses in her various aspects, and rituals are performed in her honour. Many fast during the entire period, with pujas and other rituals. The most colourful and vibrant celebration undoubtedly can be seen in Gujarat where the fervour and festivity is captivating. Flowing outfits in an unimaginable palette of colours, lights and music, twirling and swaying, the spirit of the festival is truly joyous and fervent. On the other hand in West Bengal, this is the time for Pujo celebrating the unfathomable power of Goddess Durga. Pandal hopping and bhogs, rich cultural events and huge fanfare all over marks the last days of Navratri. Apart from these, in Tamil Nadu in the South, Navratri is celebrated as Golu with festive displays of small dolls, figurines and idols, arranged on staircase structures, narrating a legend or a theme. The north celebrates it as a victory of King Rama over the demon Ravana. On the 10th day of Dusshera, huge effigies of demon Ravana are burned, celebrating the victory of good over evil.

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