Navaratri and Dassera
Navaratri and Dassera are also long festivals celebrated over a period of ten days. The first nine days constitute the Navaratri festival. Navaratri itself means nine nights (Nava = nine, ratri = night).The term "Dassera" or "Vijayadashmi" which is the last and tenth day are derived from the word for number ten i.e. Das (in Hindi) or Dasha (in Sanskrit).
Navaratri is Dedicated to the Mother-Goddess
This festival is devoted to the Mother Goddess known variously as Durga, Kali, Bhavani, Amba, Chandika, etc. This festival is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India. The western India (Gujarat and Rajasthan) throughout the nine days, both men and women participate in a dance in which they go in circles around an object of worship. This dance style is a very popular one during this festival. The dances start after 10 p.m. and many a times they continue up to the small hours of the morning. In eastern India (especially in Bengal) this festival is the principal festival and is celebrated with gaiety and devotion through public ceremonies (Sarvajanik of Sarbojanin Durga Puja). For these ceremonies Pundals (temporary public booths) are erected. The ceremonies are conducted amidst grand prayers and mass feeding.
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