Navratri - the nine nights of Goddess Durga - are a time when India is drenched in a celebration of the divine feminine. And the diverse festivities are unique to every part of country.
If you have time at hand to travel during the festival season, here are some must-visit destinations.
Kolkata witnesses the most spectacular Navratri or Durga Puja celebrations, as the whole city turns into a big carousal full of pandals, food, colour and people. The festivities begin a week ahead of the festival, with Bengalis gearing up to welcome their Goddess. The fun begins from the fifth day of Navratri, when there's just hopping from one pandal to another, enjoying their unique décor and events and indulging in the relishing bhogs. The dhunuchi dance to beats of the dhaak is a prominent Pujo ritual.
Must Do: Pandal hopping, sightseeing, delicious delicacies and shopping
Navratri in Ahmedabad is nine nights of midnight revelry set to folk songs and beats of dhol and garba sticks and supported by buffets of lavish vegetarian fare. Stadiums, parks and all open spaces during these days are turned into massive dance grounds where youth dressed in vibrant chaniya cholis, kediyus and kafni pajamas converge in hordes to match steps with spirited singers belting out traditional numbers.
Must Do: Enjoying Garba, sightseeing, food walk in the city and shopping
Though Varanasi is an attraction the year round, it gains a special cultural relevance during Navratri, which is also the time for the staging of Ramnagar Ram Leela, said to be the oldest in the world. This tradition of theatrical story-telling of Ramayana was started by the Maharaja of Varanasi in the 1800s and continues to this day in its traditional format. During the 31 days of the Ram Leela, Ramnagar turns into the kingdom of Ayodhya and episodes from the epics are performed while moving from one place to another.
Must Do: Visiting Ganga Ghats, Sightseeing, Attending Ganga Aarti, Food Walk in the city and shopping
October, more precisely Navratri is the time of the onset of Rajasthan's travel season, when the scorching desert clime gives way to a slightly pleasant weather. Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner - all these cities turn into celebration grounds. With endless folk music and men and women in colourful traditional outfits dancing their hearts out to Ghoomar and Garba. There are also mouthwatering snacks and finger-licking Rajasthani cuisine to keep the merrymaking going.
Must Do: Hot air ballooning, sightseeing, relishing delicious food, and shopping