Navratri, also spelled Navaratri or Navarathri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent, theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi. The festival is celebrated in the half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin. In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navratri, in the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with Rama Lila and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana. In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated, in all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya. Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, the festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra. The word Navratri means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine, according to some Hindu texts such as the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, Navaratri theoretically falls twice or four times a year. Of these, the Sharada Navaratri near autumn equinox is the most celebrated, in all cases, Navaratri falls in the bright half of the Hindu luni-solar months. The celebrations vary by region, leaving much to the creativity, Sharada Navaratri, the most celebrated of the four navaratris, named after sharada which means autumn. It is observed the lunar month of Ashvin, in many regions the festival falls after autumn harvest, and in others during harvest. Vasanta Navaratri, the second most celebrated, named after vasanta which means spring and it is observed the lunar month of Chaitra. In many regions the festival falls after spring harvest, and in others during harvest, the other two navratris are minor and observed regionally or by individuals, Magha Navaratri, in Magha, winter season. In some regions, the Hindu god of love, Kama is revered, ashada Navaratri, in Ashadha, start of the monsoon season. The Sharada Navratri commences on the first day of the fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during this month, the festivities extend beyond goddess Durga and god Rama. Various other goddesses such as Saraswati and Lakshmi, gods such as Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, for example, a notable pan-Hindu tradition during Navratri is the adoration of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and arts through Ayudha Puja. On this day, which falls on the ninth day of Navratri after the Good has won over Evil through Durga or Rama, peace
Image: Navratri Navaratri festival preparations and performance arts collage
In Northern, Central and Western states of India, the Ramlila play is enacted during Navratri by rural artists (above).
Navaratri festival is an occasion of classical and folk dance performances at Hindu temples. In picture it's Ambaji Temple of Gujarat
An 1834 sketch by James Prinsep showing Ram Leela Mela during Navratri in Benares.