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Guide to Celebrating 2014 Navaratri in India

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Guide to Celebrating 2014 Navaratri in India

Gujarati garba dance for Navaratri.

www.flickr.com user Restless Mind.
Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It's a festival full of worship and dance. The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day.

When is Navaratri Celebrated:

Usually in late September/early October each year. In 2014, Navaratri starts on September 25 and ends on October 3. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.

Find out Navaratri festival dates in future years.

Where is Navaratri Celebrated:

The festival is celebrated all over India but in different ways. The most flamboyant and renowned Navaratri celebrations can be seen in western India, throughout the state of Gujarat and in Mumbai. In West Bengal, Navaratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.

How is Navaratri Celebrated:

In western India, Navaratri is celebrated with nine nights of dancing. The traditional dances of Gujurat, known as garba and dandiya raas, are performed in circles with dancers dressed up in colorful clothes. Small, decorated sticks called dandiyas are used in the dandiya raas.

In Mumbai, dancing takes over stadiums and clubs throughout the city. While some of it has retained a traditional flavor, the introduction of disco dandiya has given Mumbai's Navaratri celebrations a glamorous and modern twist. Nowadays, people unleash their dancing to a fusion of remixed beats and loud Hindi pop music.

In Delhi, the feature of Navaratri celebrations are the Ramlila plays that take place all over the city. Towering effigies of the demon Ravan are burned as part these performances on Dussehra. According to Hindu mythology in the Ramayana, at the beginning of Navaratri, Rama prayed to Goddess Durga to be granted the divine power to kill Ravan. He received this power on the eight day, and finally Ravan was vanquished on Dussehra.

What Rituals are Performed During Navaratri:

Over the course of the nine days, the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her various forms -- Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.

Each goddess is worshiped for three days in turn, starting with Durga who destroys negative tendencies. Next is Lakshmi who bestows good virtues and fortune, and last is Saraswati, who instills wisdom and spiritual knowledge. The worship, accompanied by fasting, takes place in the mornings. Evenings are for feasting and dancing.

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