“Nav Ratri” or “Nine Nights” is the period when Durga Puja (Worship of Goddess Durga) is performed which is an important festival in India. This happens generally in the month of October. It is variedly celebrated all over the country.
In North India the celebrations are a part of the “Dusshera” festival. One of the important event of this festival is the “Ramlila” where plays are enacted from the Hindu Epic “Ramayan” and culminating in the killing of the Demon King “Ravan” in the hands of God Ram when a huge effigy of Ravan is burnt down to ashes.
In West India the “Garbha” dance symbolises the celebration of the Dusshera festival when boys/girls as well as men/women dance the Garbha to the tune of scintillating music.
In South India this is the time to set up the “Kolu” or “Golu” or the “Exhibition of Dolls”. Many of the houses would put up a makeshift stage or wooden steps on which various types of dolls would be arranged and tastefully decorated. There would be music and offering of special items of food that are unique to this festival. This festival also sees the worshipping of equipment/ instruments/ implements (Ayudha Puja – literally “Worship of the Implements”) which people use for their trade/business/livelihood so that in the year to come these equipment/instruments/implements would stand one in good stead and perform well for the prosperity of their business. Also books are worshipped on a particular day – “Saraswati Puja” (Worship of Goddess Saraswati – the Goddess of Learning)
In East India this period is famously celebrated as “Durga Puja” or “Worship of Goddess Durga”. She is the Divine Mother of all mankind and one who eventually killed the Demon Mahishasura who was otherwise invincible. Thus you will see her riding a Lion which her Vahana or Vehicle and spearing the Demon Mahishasur who has taken the form of a buffalo to deceive Her. It is said that on these nine days the Goddess descends to the earth to bless Her Children. After nine days of worship i.e. on the tenth day the statue of the Goddess (which is made out of clay) is taken in a grand procession and immersed in a nearby river or the sea.
These photographs are from one such Durga Puja in Chennai.