Sharad Navratri Festival, India

The Hindu festival of Navratri, (Sanskrit: "nine nights," also spelled Navaratri, is a major festival honoring the divine feminine known as Durga Puja. Asvin or Ashvina (in the Gregorian calendar, usually September to October) is the month in which Sharad Navratri falls over 9 days.

Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) is celebrated at the 10th day after the end of Sharad Navaratri, so it lasts an extra day instead of nine. As the lunar calendar differs in some years, it is possible for Sharad Navratri to continue for 8 days, and Dussehra to occur on the 9th day. Sharad Navratri, also called Maha Navratri. The celebration of Sharad Navratri differs by region in India. During this festival, many people will meditate and fast; for others, they will dance and feast. In addition to fasting, certain customs include abstaining from alcohol and certain spices. Garba dances are performed, particularly in Gujarat.

Each night of the festival is devoted to a different aspect of the goddess or shakti, the divine feminine principle. Generally, there is a first third, a second third, and a final third focused on different aspects of the goddess Durga. There are usually rituals in honor of these idols as well as offerings to them. A popular ritual is Kanya Puja, which occurs on the 8th and 9th days. Nine young girls participate in this ritual, where they dress up as the nine goddess aspects symbolized by the Sharad Navratri festival and receive offerings such as food and clothing. Durga Puja ("Rite of Durga") is a festival known among followers of the goddess Durga, who reside mainly in Bengal and Assam. As well as family celebrations, puja days are also marked with public performances, recitations, and plays.

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