Navratri or the nine nights sacred to the Mother Goddess are celebrated in the month of October / November.
It commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon, Mahishasur. Endowed with power, by the blessing of Lord Shiva the demon started destroying innocent people. The gods invoked Goddess Durga and asked for her help. The goddess, astride a lion fought with the demon and cut off his head.
It is an occasion for vibrant festivities throughout the country. During Navratri, devotees of Durga fast and pray for health and prosperity. Different manifestations of Durga or shakti are worshipped every night. Devotees and young enthusiasts dance the Garba or Dandiya-Raas throughout the night, in keeping with the exuberant nature of this festival.
The Navratri festival celebrations at Ahmedabad and Baroda are famous throughout Gujarat. Here the evenings and nights are occasions for the fascinating Garba dance. The women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of the hands. In Punjab, Navratri is a period of fasting. In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka dolls called Bommai kolu are placed and decorated. Goddesses' Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati areworshipped for three days. Gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets are exchanged. Scenes culled from various stories in the epics and puranas are displayed.