Navratri is the Hindu festival of nine nights dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the feminine form of the Divine. It takes place during the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin.
During these nine nights, the mother goddess is worshipped in nine different forms. Navratri culminates on the 10th day with the festivities of Vijayadasham, also known as Dussehra, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil. A common greeting during this festival is Shubh Navratri (Happy Navratri).
However, Navratri is not always nine days in length. In 2016, for the first time since 2000, the festival will last 10 days, starting on October 1 and lasting until October 10. Durga Puja celebrations begin on October 7.
Navratri is celebrated all over India and among the Hindu diaspora with great fanfare. Prior to the festival, skilled artisans prepare clay models of the goddess in her various manifestations. Many Hindus take part in special ceremonies, rituals, fasts and festivities. People buy new clothes, prepare delicious sweets and buy gifts for family and friends.