Navratri is a festival dedicated to the hindu God, Durga. The word is derived from two Sanskrit words, Nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights, different forms of Devi are worshiped while on the tenth day is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijaydhashami while Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated 20 days after dussehra.
This festival is celebrated in different parts of India in different ways:
• Andhra Pradesh : Batukamma Panduga which means 'come alive goddess mother' is celebrated specially in Telangana region. This 9 day festival is dedicated specially to in which batukamma, a flower stack with seven season flowers is arranged in the shape of pot. Women wear silk sarees and Gold ornaments. In the evenings, the women gather around these pot shaped flowers and sing and dance over folk songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Then they march towards a lake or any other water body and set afloat their Batukammas.
• Tamil Nadu : Navratri festival is dedicated for nine special nights to , Lakshmi and Saraswati. People display 'Golu' at their houses. Golu is a makeshift arrangement of Dolls of God and Goddess with nine stairs, in which each stair depicts each night of navratri. Women beloning to the Brahman community invite their friends and family members to their houses in the evening for Puja and a special receipe called 'Sundal' made with lentil seeds and pulses is given as prasad after the puja.
• Kerala : Keralite people celebrate this festival only for three last days which are considered to be utmost auspicious They place books, musical instruments (if any) in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami. The books are worshiped and people pray to the Goddess for granting them wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading.
• Karnataka : In Karnataka the festival is called 'Naada Habba'. The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets. Fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts are common feature. Karnataka’s way of celebrating Navratri dates back to the times of Raja Wodeyar in the 1610.
• Maharasthra : In Maharasthra, Navratri is an auspecious time to initiate new beginnings. Buying a new car or a house, this is the best time for all this. Women invite their female friends to their homes and gift them with a coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts. They put haldi (Turmeric) and kumkum on the foreheads of the married women as a gesture of `Saumangalyam`.
• Himachal Pradesh : Navratri is the time in which people meet their relatives and pay the utmost devotion and respect to the almighty. It is the most important festival for the Hindus in Himachal. The tenth day is celebrated as 'Kullu Dushrea'. People mark this day to rejoice the victory of Rama over the demon king Ravana. Songs and dance are common ways to express devotion and exhibitions of various items are set-up. On Dusshera or Dashami, the deities from the temples of the village are taken out in processions.
• West Bengal : Bengalis celebrate this festival as 'Durga Puja'. There is a huge Idol and Pandals of Maa Durga placed in the streets, much like Ganesh Chaturthi. Starting from seventh to the ninth day, the streets of Bengal are drenched with glitter and vibrant colors.
• Gujarat : For gujaratis, Navratri is very much associated to the dance 'Garbha' which means womb. A clay pot symbolizes Garbha, which is the prominent feature of the festival. Women in vibrant and grand costumes dance around the pot which is filled with water, a betel nut and a silver coin. A coconut is placed on the top of the pot. And people enjoy dancing the folk dance, Garbha around this clay pot. Dandiya Raas is another important attraction in Gujarat during the festive season. Sticks of equal length are used for the dance and the only difference between this form of dance with Garbha is that the sticks are used for clapping instead of hands.
• Punjab : In Punjab, most people keep fast for the first seven days, they also go to jagrathra (Keeping awake the whole night by singing songs and bhajans of the almighty). The festival is dedicated to Goddess Shakti. On the eighth day (Ashtami), the fast is broken by giving food (Bhandara) to nine young girls and these girls are believed to be forms of Goddess Durga. These young girls offered a feast in which Puri with Chole is served and a chunri(Cloth) is given to them.