Navratri, literally meaning nine nights, is a festival of the triumph of good over evil. This festival is celebrated in Sept/Oct with the worship of Shakti/Paravati in her various forms such as: Durga, Kali, Vijaya, Vaishnavi, Kumuda, Chadika, Badrakali …
A demon by the name of Mahishasura, had waged war against the demigods. The demigods sought assistance from Durga during the war. Durga, fought Mahishasura for nine days and killed him on the 10th day (known as Vijay Dashami – victory of Durga). The festival of Dushera (Victory of Lord Ram) is also celebrated on the 10th day.
The nine nights preceding Vijaya Dashami are celebrated as Navaratri, when Goddess Shakti or Durga is worshipped in her different forms.
Navratri is celebrated though out India in different ways:
In South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka, the Navaratri is celebrated with Golu display (a display of dolls depicting various events from the Puranas (holy books/scriptures), royal processions, mock weddings, etc.) and the women invite each other to visit their homes to see the Golu display and to participate in bhajans and kirtans (devotional music).
Durga puja is also celebrated with great pomp and pageantry in West Bengal for five-days culminating on the day of Vijaya Dashami. It is the biggest festival in the state. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size sculptures of Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura are set up in the temples for worship. On the fifth day, these sculptures are taken in a procession and then immersed in the river.
In north India, particularly in the state of Gujarat, devotees celebrate by attending kirtans and dances. On each of the nine nights devotees dance around a murti (image) of Durga and her various forms with accompanying music dedicated to the Goddess. Other Gods and Goddess, among them, Krishna, Laxmi and Saraswati are also celebrated during this time.