Loading Slideshow...
  • Hindu devotees light oil lamps at a temple on the first day of Navratri or the festival of nine nights in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)

  • An Indian man wearing traditional attire performs Garba during Navratri festival, in Ahmedabad, India, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. Garba is a folk dance in which participants move in a circle while clapping. Navaratri, the festival of nights, lasts for nine days, with three days each devoted to the worship of Durga, the goddess of valor, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. Feasting and fasting takes over normal life for millions of Hindus, and many people join in religious dances in the evenings. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • An Indian man wearing traditional attire performs Garba during Navratri festival, in Ahmedabad, India, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. Garba is a folk dance in which participants move in a circle while clapping. Navaratri, the festival of nights, lasts for nine days, with three days each devoted to the worship of Durga, the goddess of valor, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. Feasting and fasting takes over normal life for millions of Hindus, and many people join in religious dances in the evenings. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 photo, Indian children perform the Garba, a traditional dance of Gujarat state, during Navratri celebrations in Ahmadabad, India. Navratri, the festival of nine nights, began Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • Indian folk dancers from the Panghat Group of Performing Arts participate in a full dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Navratri festivities or Dance Festival of Nine Nights in Ahmedabad on October 7, 2012. Navratri festival begins from October 16 to 24. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY

  • Indian folk dancers from the Panghat Group of Performing Arts participate in a full dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Navratri festivities or Dance Festival of Nine Nights in Ahmedabad on October 7, 2012. Navratri festival begins from October 16 to 24. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY

  • Indian folk dancers from the Panghat Group of Performing Arts participate in a full dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Navratri festivities or Dance Festival of Nine Nights in Ahmedabad on October 7, 2012. Navratri festival begins from October 16 to 24. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY

  • Indian folk dancers from the Panghat Group of Performing Arts participate in a full dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Navratri festivities or Dance Festival of Nine Nights in Ahmedabad on October 7, 2012. Navratri festival begins from October 16 to 24. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY

  • In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 photo, an Indian devotee holding a pot of holy smoke dances on the second day of the Durga Puja festival celebrations at a temporary shelter in Kolkata, India. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Flower vendors await customers at a wholesale flower market on the second day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. The five-day festival, commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Vendors sell marigold flowers at a wholesale flower market on the second day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. The five-day festival, commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDU

    Indian Hindu devotees pay their respects in the front of an idol of Hindu goddess Durga during the Durga Puja festival in Amritsar on October 22, 2012. The five-day period of worship of Durga, who is attributed as the destroyer of evil, commenced on October 20. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDUISM-FESTIVAL

    An Indian girl puts traditional gold jewellery on the clay idol of Hindu Goddess Durga in preparation for the upcoming Durga Puja festival in Kolkata on October 20, 2012. The five-day Durga Puja festival which commemorates the slaying of the demon king Mahishasur by the goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil, commences today. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDUISM-FESTIVAL

    Indian Hindu devotees gather in front of puja pandal, a worship place of Hindu Goddess Durga for the Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata on October 20, 2012. The five-day Durga Puja festival which commemorates the slaying of the demon king Mahishasur by the goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil, commences from today. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR

  • Devotees throng inside a temporary worship venue of Hindu goddess Durga on the first day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. The five-day festival, commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Hindu Devotees click photographs of the ornately decorated worship venue of Hindu goddess Durga on the third day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Devotees throng inside an illuminated temporary worship venue of Hindu goddess Durga on the third day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • An artist gives final touches to an idol of Hindu Goddess Kali during the first day of Navratri festival in Bhopal, India, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. Feasting and fasting takes over normal life for millions of Hindus during Navratri, the festival of nine nights. (AP Photo/Rajeev Gupta)

  • Members of Sil family of Chorbagan pray during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by lion-riding, 10-armed goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

  • A Hindu devotee offers prayers at the Kali Temple on the first day of the Navratri festival in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. Feasting and fasting takes over normal life for millions of Hindus during Navratri, the festival of nine nights. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 photo, Indian woman Ushaben Dave, 65, wears a framed costume decorated by dozens of oil lamps during celebrations for the festival of Navratri in Ahmadabad, India. Navratri or the festival of nine nights is an annual Hindu festival. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • Pakistani member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and former human rights minister of Pakistan, Ansar Burney (L) gives an offering to a young girl during the Kanjak Pooja on the last day of Navratri in Amritsar on October 22, 2012. Held at the end of the Navratri festival, Dussehra symbolises the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology. AFP PHOTO/ NARINDER NANU

  • An Indian girl holds candles during the Kanjak Pooja during Navratri at a temple in Amritsar on October 22, 2012. Held at the end of the Navratri festival, Dussehra symbolises the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology. On the night of Dussehra, fire-crackers and stuffed effigies of Ravana are set alight in open grounds across the country. AFP PHOTO/ NARINDER NANU

  • Indian Hindu devotees read copies of the Durga Stuti, the Hindu holy book at a temple in Amritsar on October 16, 2012 during the Navratri Festival. Navratri, the nine-day festival, is held twice a year during the spring and autumn seasons and symbolises the triumph of good over evil being celebrated with worship and dance. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

  • Indian Hindu devotees hold cups of milk water as they pay their respects at the Mata Longa Wali Devi Temple in Amritsar on October 16, 2012 during the Navratri Festival. Navratri, the nine-day festival, is held twice a year during the spring and autumn seasons and symbolises the triumph of good over evil being celebrated with worship and dance. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

  • Indian Hindu devotees hold cups of milk water as they pay their respects at the Mata Longa Wali Devi Temple in Amritsar on October 16, 2012 during the Navratri Festival. Navratri, the nine-day festival, is held twice a year during the spring and autumn seasons and symbolises the triumph of good over evil being celebrated with worship and dance. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

  • Indian Hindu devotees read copies of the Durga Stuti, the Hindu holy book at a temple in Amritsar on October 16, 2012 during the Navratri Festival. Navratri, the nine-day festival, is held twice a year during the spring and autumn seasons and symbolises the triumph of good over evil being celebrated with worship and dance. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

  • An Indian Hindu devotee has a slogan painted on his forehead with the words 'nine and ratri' after taking a holy dip in the River Ganges in Allahabad on October 16, 2012, on the first day of The Navratri Festival. Navrati - The festival of nine nights - is marked by feasting and fasting which takes over normal life for millions of Hindus. AFP PHOTO/STR

  • An Indian Hindu devotee takes a holy dip in the River Ganges in Allahabad on October 16, 2012, on the first day of The Navratri Festival. Navrati - The festival of nine nights - is marked by feasting and fasting which takes over normal life for millions of Hindus. AFP PHOTO/STR

  • Indian Hindus perform rituals during the 'Nabapatrika Snan' in which a holy banana tree is submerged in the river water of Mahananda as part of rituals for worshipping Hindu Goddess Durga for the Durga Puja festival in Siliguri on October 21, 2012. The five-day Durga Puja festival which commemorates the slaying of the demon king Mahishasur by the goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. AFP PHOTO/ Diptendu DUTTA

  • Hindu devotees perform morning rituals on the banks of the River Ganges on the first day of Navratri festival, in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. Feasting and fasting takes over normal life for millions of Hindus during Navratri, the festival of nine nights. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Navratri is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin. In 2012, Navratri is observed from Oct. 16 until Oct. 24. Durga Puja celebrations began on Oct. 20, 2012.

Navratri is the Hindu festival of nine nights dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the feminine form of the Divine. During these nine nights, the mother goddess is worshipped in nine different forms. Navratri culminates on the 10th day with the festivities of Vijayadashami. A common greeting during this festival is Shubh Navratri (Happy Navratri).

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. During Navratri, many Hindus in Gujarat and elsewhere wear colorful costumes and perform a special type of vigorous dance known as garba. Traditionally, garbas are performed around an earthen lamp or images / statues of the mother goddess.

In eastern India and in the Bengali diaspora, during the last six nights of Navratri, the goddess Durga is worshipped in a grand manner. She is venerated in the form of a fierce, but kind many-armed goddess riding atop a lion or a tiger, and stamping on the demon Mahishashura. The festival of Durga Puja marks the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishashura, and thus symbolizes the victory of good over evil. On the 10th day following Navratri, the statue of the goddess Durga is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with singing and dancing to be immersed in a river or the sea.

At HuffPost Religion, we're telling the news in photos. Click here to visit our photoblog

Below are the nine forms of the divine feminine that are worshipped during the nine nights of Navratri

Loading Slideshow...
  • Shailaputri

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shailaputri_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta.

  • Brahmacharini

    Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Brahmacharini.jpg">here</a>.

  • Chandraghanta

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chandraghanta_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta

  • Kushmanda

    Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Chandraghanta_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta

  • Skandamata

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Skandamata_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta.

  • Kathyayini

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Katyayani_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta.

  • Kaal Ratri

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Katyayani_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta

  • Maha Gauri

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mahagauri_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta

  • Siddhidatri

    Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mahagauri_Sanghasri_2010_Arnab_Dutta.JPG">here</a>. Photo by Arnab Dutta.