Navratri is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga. Navratri 2015 starts from 13 October to 22 October, last day being called Dussehra (Dasara).
Navaratri holds great significance across India and Nepal. While, Navratri is marked by celebrations, fasting as well as relishing on various delicacies, dance and prayers, this festival also includes certain myths and a number of do's and don'ts.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva allowed his wife Goddess Durga to visit her mother for nine days during this time and hence, Navratri is celebrated nine days; "nav" means nine and "ratri" means night.
While, people prepare a lot of dishes during Navratri, devotees also hold fasts during the nine days. Also, certain routine tasks are strictly prohibited during the festival, as it is believed that not abiding by these rituals will forbid them from getting Goddess Durga's blessings.
Some of the "donts' during Navratri are:
1) One should not get hair or nail cut.
2) One should not stitch clothes.
3) One should not consume alcohol, and non-vegetarian food items including onion and garlic.
4) Students should not study on the last day of the festival, that is Dussehra.
On the other side, there are some "dos" also, which devotees strictly follow during the festival. Some include offering milk and food to Goddess Durga, having a shower early in morning, reciting mantras related to the Goddess, etc.
The festivals of Navratri, also known as Durga Puja, has a mythological story associated with it, which signifies the victory of good over evil.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga fought a battle with demon Mahishashura during this time and defeated him; thus this festival is celebrated to show devotion towards the Goddess for protecting Her devotees from evil forces.
It is believed that Goddess Durga, who symbolises power, has nine different forms; two of them are Laxmi and Saraswati. The nine-day-long festival also witnesses worship for Laxmi and Saraswati, who symbolise wealth and knowledge respectively.
The last day of Navratri, called Dussehra, ends with huge effigies of Ravana being burnt as it symbolises Lord Rama's triumph over the lord of demons.