One of the most popular festivals in South Asia, Navratri is celebrated during the Hindu month of Ashwin, which usually takes place during September and October. This year, festivals were held from October 17 to October 26. Navratri translates to “nine nights” in Sanskrit, and Dussehra, the associated festival, is held on the 10th day. Navratri is also a precursor to Diwali, another highly respected South Asian festival whose name means "festival of lights" and appears on November 14 this year.
Although Navratri is celebrated in various ways and for a variety of reasons throughout the country, there are a few legends that have influenced many festivals. One is the story of King Rama defeating Ravana, the ten-headed king of demons, in the Hindu epic book Ramayana. Ravana kidnaps King Rama's wife, Sita, and abducted her to Ravana's kingdom, in Lanka, and challenger Lord Rama to defeat Ravana and free Sita. Another famous story is the story of Durga Mata killing Mahishasura, a raging demon, Durga Maa killed Mahisasur and save Devtas and this world from his anger and destruction. The battle began on the seventh day of Navratri, known as Saptami, and the tenth day, known as Dussehra or Vijayadashmi, was the day of victory. Although Navratri is also a harvest festival in some regions, a great deal of triumph over good over evil prevails in all regions. in North India, Dussehra is associated with Navratri and the entire ten-day period is known as Navratri. The battle between Rama and Ravana is said to have lasted 10 days; therefore, Navratri is celebrated for 10 days and the last day, the day of Rama's victory, is celebrated in excess. During the 10-day festival, both the victory of Rama and the various Hindu goddesses are celebrated.
Among the followers of the goddess Durga, people predominantly from Bengal and Assam, the festival holds important value and they celebrate it with utter joy and importance. During Durga Puja, special statues of Durga commemorating her victory over the demon-possessed head of the buffalo Mahishasura are worshipped daily, and on the 10th day that is known as Dussehra, they are submerged in the water bodies. In addition to the family, puja, or cultural observances, the days are celebrated with public concerts, games and shows.
In Western India, especially the state of Gujarat and parts of Maharashtra Garba and Dandiya Raas are very popular forms of dances they are generally popular with the youth, children also play them with great joy and happiness. Garba generally is played or performed which involves people forming a circle and dancing around the clay image or a painting of Goddess Durga which is an enlightened space with hundreds of diyas. Dandiya Raas which is similar to Garba, involves dancers striking small wooden sticks with a partner. Generally, the couples perform this dance form, both of these dance forms are originated and gives us a complete feeling of Gujrat. As Navratri celebrations have grown more extravagant, individuals of all cultures have joined and participated in the proceedings. They celebrate the 10th day as Dussehra, on which they honour both Durga and Rama. Durga Puja primarily focuses on the deity, so individual families can still carry out religious rituals. Traditions such as going to places of worship for darshan, however, are no longer an option.