Navaratri is a nine-night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. It is a festival of worship and dance. The festival culminates with Dussehra, a celebration of the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day.
Actually, there are four different Navaratri festivals throughout the year in India. However, Sharad Navaratri is the most popular. This festival takes place in late September or early October each year. The dates of the festival are determined according to the Hindu lunar calendar.
The festival is celebrated throughout India, but in different ways. The most extravagant and famous Navaratri celebrations take place in western India, throughout the state of Gujarat and in Mumbai. In West Bengal and Odisha, Navaratri is celebrated as Durga Puja.
In western India, Navaratri is celebrated with nine nights of dancing. Gujarati traditional dances, known as garba and dandiya raas, are performed in circles with dancers dressed in colorful clothing. Small decorated sticks called dandiyas are used in dandiya raas.
In Mumbai, dancing takes over stadiums and clubs across the city. While some of it has retained a traditional flavor, the introduction of the dandiya disco has given Mumbai Navaratri celebrations a glamorous and modern twist. Today, people unleash their dance with a fusion of remixed rhythms and strong Hindi pop music.
In Delhi, the feature of the Navaratri celebrations are the Ramlila plays that take place throughout the city. The towering effigies of the demon Ravan are burned as part of these performances in Dussehra. According to Hindu mythology in the Ramayana, at the beginning of Navaratri, Rama prayed to Goddess Durga for the divine power to kill Ravan. He received this power on the eighth day, and finally, Ravan was defeated at Dussehra.
In southern India (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh), Navaratri is widely known as Golu and is celebrated with the display of dolls. The dolls are symbolic of female power. They are placed on uneven numbered steps (usually three, five, seven, nine, or 11) that are set up with wooden planks and decorated. During the festival, the women visit each other's houses to see the exhibits and exchange sweets.
In Telangana, in South India, Navaratri is celebrated as Bathukamma. This flower festival is dedicated to Goddess Maha Gauri, an incarnation of Goddess Durga who is considered the giver of life and the Goddess of femininity.
Over the course of the nine days, the Mother Goddess (Goddess Durga, who is an aspect of Goddess Parvati) is worshiped in her various forms. Worship, accompanied by fasting, takes place in the mornings. The afternoons are for partying and dancing. Each day has a different ritual associated with it. Also, predominantly in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, there is a custom of wearing different colors of clothing every day.
In Gujarat, a clay pot is brought home and decorated on the first day. It is considered as the source of life on earth and a small diya (candle) is kept . The women dance around the pot.
In Telangana, the goddess is worshiped in the form of Bathukamma, a flower arrangement stacked to resemble a temple tower. The women sing old folk devotional songs and process the Bathukammas to immerse themselves in the water on the last day.