BHOPAL, India – Indian devotees across the country on Saturday celebrated the start of Navratri, a nine-day festival dedicated to the worship of Hindu Goddess Durga.
Devotees celebrate with traditional dance and music, and also take part in prayers, rituals, offerings and fasting as they consider the festival a period of introspection and purification.
The festival marks the victory of good over evil, as Hindus believe the goddess defeated an evil demon in a battle that lasted nine nights, and pray to her for prosperity and good health.
In Bhopal, the capital of central Madhya Pradesh state, people in colorful traditional costumes on Saturday night performed the famous Garba dance to appease the goddess, an epa journalist reported.
The dance is traditionally performed in a circle – a symbol of the Hindu view of cyclical time – with an earthen pot containing a lit lamp, or a picture or statue of the Goddess Durga in the center.
The festival is celebrated twice a year with Vasanta (Chaitra) Navratri in the spring and Sharad Navratri in the autumn, both marking a shift in season.
The festive period continues until Oct. 10.