Basanth Panchami Diwali Durga Puja Dussehra Ganesha Chaturthi Hanuman Jayanthi Holi
Krishna Janamashtami Makarasankranthi Nagapanchami Navarathri Rama Navami Shivrathri
Shivrathri Rama Navami Navarathri Nagapanchami Makarasankranthi Krishna Janamashtami
Holi Hanuman Jayanthi Ganesha Chaturthi Dussehra Durga Puja Diwali Basanth Panchami


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goddess durga Literally 'nine nights', this nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvin is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar and is hence the most celebrated time of the year. Although it has different names in different parts of India, Hindus from all regions celebrate it. From Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, and from Gujarat in the west to Sikkim in the east, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm as the conquest of good over evil. Every region has its own myths and reasons to explain this.

The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshipped: 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; and Bhavani: giver of existence.

The festivities culminate on the tenth day, called variously Vijayadashmi, Dussehra or Dassain when people in most parts of the country burn effigies of Ravana, Meghanatha and Kumbhakarna. 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. These nine days are however, popular in north India only. The ninth day in this month is also celebrated as Ramanavami.

During Navaratri some people fast on all days taking only fruit and milk dishes and some fast only on the eighth or ninth day. As the festival is dear to the mother goddess, on the eighth or ninth day many people invite over nine young girls from the neighborhood. These girls are treated as the goddess herself. People ceremonially wash their feet, worship them and then offer food to the "girl goddesses".

On the first day of the Navaratri, grains of barley are planted in the puja room of the house. A small bed of mud is prepared in which barley seeds are sown after a small puja has been performed. Every day some water is sprinkled on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. The seedlings are placed on their caps, behind their ears, and inside books to bring good luck. This custom suggests a link to harvesting. The sowing and reaping of barley is symbolic of the "first fruit”. Soon after this festival, the sugarcane crop is harvested and the winter crops are sown.

According to one hypothesis, in ancient times, this was a festival intended for the Kshatriyas. After the four-month long monsoon when military activity was not possible, this was considered a good time to start afresh on one's conquests.
For nine days before starting on the war journey, kings prayed to the nine different aspects of Devi or Adishakti. They also prayed for their arms and ammunition. The tenth day was when the journey for the conquest began. The origin of this custom can also be traced to the Ramayana. According to it, Rama had to pray to the nine different aspects of Devi to be able to kill Ravana. He then accumulated enough power to kill Ravana on the tenth day, which was called Vijayadashmi or Victory Day. Since then, the tradition of praying to Devi for nine days has continued and was especially pronounced amongst the Kshatriyas who believed that by doing so, they too would be able to defeat the most powerful enemy. garba dance
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