Navaratri literally means nine nights. This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter. But the Navratri celebrated just before winter in the months September or October is full of fun, gaiety and religious rituals.
After the Ganesh Chaturthi, which marks the onset of festival season in India, Navratri is one of the biggest festivals for India.
The celebration is mainly to worship Goddess Durga. She represents purity and power in Hindu belief and is associated with the fertility of earth, which feeds us, its children.
The festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil, as in Hindu mythology, Durga famously destroyed the demon Mahishasura after a battle that lasted nine nights.
The 10 days and 9 nights of Navratri are filled with ritualistic chanting, prayers, fasting and celebration.
In some places in India especially Bengal and Gujarat, festivities include traditional dance and music. The dandiya nights become the flavor of the season as hordes of men and women descend in all their finery and dance to the beats of dhol with dandiya ( sticks), sometimes through entire nights.
Farmers sow their seeds and thank Durga for her blessings, praying for a healthy crop as women plant nine different types of grain in small containers and offer the saplings to the goddess. The time of Navratri is meant for introspection and purification.
In Rajasthan, the Navratri Sthapana is conducted in most houses, puja paths are recited by priests in temples, homes. Havans are also part of the rituals. At nights, many are busy attending the dandiya nights. Even politicians, leaders of all hues participate inthe festivities.