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Durga Puja Or Navaratri

This nine-day festival of the Hindus is celebrated in almost all parts of India in the month of Ashvina, and is marked by fasting and praying to different aspects of Devi. Literally 'nine nights', this nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar.

It is celebrated as Durga Puja in the state of West Bengal. Durga Puja is the most important and the most eagerly awaited festival of the state. It commemorates the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura.

The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days.

Durga: goddess beyond reach;
Bhadrakali: the auspicious power of time;
Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world;
Annapurna: giver of food and plenty;
Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess;
Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death;
Chandika or Chandi: violent, wrathful, furious;
Lalita: playful;
Bhavani: giver of existence.

The festivities culminate on the tenth day on Vijayadashmi or Dussehra.

In North India the nine-day period from the first to the ninth day in the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra is also known as Navaratri and is dedicated to the worship of nine different aspects of Devi. The ninth day in this month is also celebrated as Ramanavami.

In Gujarat, this is the time for the joyous Garba and Dandia dances and people pour out at night to participate in this community festival. In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, the next three to Durga and the last three to Sarasvati.

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