The 9 nights festival of Navratri begins on the first day of Ashwina of the bright fortnight. Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil demon Mahisashura during this period. On the Tenth Day Vijayadashami or Dusshera is celebrated when Lord Ram kills Ravana.
On Dusshera the dummies of Rvana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son are placed in huge ground with the filling of crackers are burnt.
The people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of virtue and honesty.
Ramleela which means drama of Ramayan part where Ram kills Ravana is done in the crowd.
In every part of India this ten days are celebrated differently.
In Gujarat and Maharashtra traditional dances in the form of Dandiya and Garba take place almost everywhere. The dancers move around in a circle, with different steps around a lamp, which signifies the Eternal Light of the Durga. Generally Gujarati men and women wearing colorful dresses dance around in a circle by clapping their hands or decorated sticks to the rhythm of the devotional songs.
In West-Bengal, Navaratri is celebrated in the form of Durga Puja. Huge ‘pandals’ are set up every where and devotees in large numbers visit to worship Goddess Durga. Men and women and children all dressed up in new clothes visit different ‘pandals’ to offer prayers to the Mother Goddess.
In the Kulu valley of Himachal Pradesh, the hill-folk celebrate Dasara with a grand mass ceremony.
In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. During this time they perform puja every night and regular cleaning is maintained all throughout because it is believed that Lakshmi would not enter if the place is dirty. The next three days are devoted to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti (Durga).
In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, women arrange ‘Bommai Kolu’, a special placing of dolls in various costumes decorated with flowers and ornaments on specially prepared steps. Nine young ‘kanyas’ or virgins are offered new clothes and sweets as the goddesses and married women share flowers, kumkum and snacks among themselves.
The Dusshera of Mysore is also quite famous where decorated elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-dressed streets of the city. During Navaratri Chamundi, the royal deity of the Mysore royalty is worshipped with pomp and religious fervor.
In Punjab by fasting for seven days. On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by worshipping young girls who are believed to symbolize the Goddess herself. The young girls are offered puris (sort of deep-fried Indian bread), halwa (a dessert primarily made of flour and sugar), chanas (Bengal gram) and red chunnis.