STORY: Devotees swarmed temples across the country as they celebrated the first day of nine-day Hindu festival of Navratri (nine nights) on Wednesday (october 10).
Also known as Durga Puja, Navratri celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the evil buffalo-demon Mahishasura.
Vaishno Devi shrine in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra town saw heavy rush of pilgrims who turned up in large numbers to offer prayers and sought blessings. I get a lot of happiness and a lot of peace. My soul gets calm after offering prayers to the goddess, said a devotee, Kaushak.
As per the Hindu calendar, the beginning of Navratri also marks start of Hindu New Year, making the occasion even more significant.
Similar scenes played out in western Mumbai city where priests performed rituals and special prayers before the idol of Durga.
On this day, devotees dress up in crisp new clothes and make elaborate offerings to the goddess to appease her. They pray for the well being of their loved ones.
Many people observe fasts and some restrict their diet to fruit and vegetables, spurning meat, onions and garlic during Navratri.
According to legend, Durga visits her children on Earth during Navratri. It is believed the goddess guides her followers and destroys all the evil from earth.
Navratri culminates on the tenth day, which is celebrated as Dussehra.