Navaratri is a composite festival celebrated all over
India beginning with the new moon in the month of Ashvina. It consists of
fasts and worship of nine aspects of Durga, one on each of the nine days.
Durga has 1008 names or epithets but is worshipped in her nine forms.
Navaratri is celebrated differently in various parts of India. In Gujarat, for nine nights, women and girls, decked in finery, dance the Garba and Dandia around a decorated earthen lamp, which has its mouth covered with a coconut. In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, the next three days to Durga and the last three days to Saraswati. In Maharashtra, on the first day, the idol of Yogeshvari, a benign form of Durga, is installed in the house and the Haldi-Kum Kum(turmeric-vermilion) ceremony is held. The culmination of the Navaratri festival is called Mahanavami. In some parts of Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the celebrations end on the ashtami, the eighth day, as it is the birthday of Parvati, the auspicious form of Durga.