Navaratri means "nine nights". During this festival people come together for dances and feasts. The festival celebrates the female, mother aspect of God, and is dedicated to Durga, the mother goddess who triumphed over the demon Mahishasura after a nine-day battle. (It is also sometimes known as Durga Puja). Traditions vary according to different Hindu communities, but they may include:
- Returning home to visit one's family - Durga was permitted by Shiva to see her mother for nine days in a year
- Planting nine different types of seed grain and offering the seedlings to the goddess
- Preparing elaborate feasts and designing puja thalis or aartis - decorated plates - as offerings
- On the tenth day of the festival, especially in Bengal, life-size clay idols of Durga are carried in procession and thrown into the river.
There are photos of many Hindu festivals, including Navaratri or Durga Puja, on the Atlantic In Focus website. Find out more about Navaratri on the following websites:
- BBC Religions - Hinduism: Navaratri - includes a video clip of the processions in Kolkata
- Wikipedia - Navratri
See also the following publications for schools, available from RE Today:
There is a secondary level (11-16) assembly script and film clips about Navaratri on the TrueTube website.