Bhairavi Chinnamasta cha Vidya Dhumavati tatha
Vagala Sidhdhavidya cha Matangi Kamalatmika
Ete Dus Mahavidya Sidhdhavidya Prakirtita".
These 10 "Mahavidya" are; Kali, Tara, Mahavidya, Shorashi, Bhuveneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Vagala, Matangi and Kamala.
The "Brihat Dharma Purana" describes how these 10 forms of Durga Shakti have appeared. Sati, wife of Lord Shiva, wanted to go to her father's house, because her father, Daksha, was organizing a huge "yagya" (fire sacrifice). However, Daksha had not invited Lord Shiva to go and attend, so Shiva advised Sati not to go there. This angered Sati so much that fire emitted from her third eye, and she changed into Kali, a dark skinned Devi. Later, as the times passerby various other forms of Maa Kali took form.
- Vasanta Navaratri: Vasanta Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Chaitra (March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navratri also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikrami Samvat).
- Ashad Navratri : Gupta Navaratri, also referred as Ashadha or Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). Gupta Navaratri is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).this is mostly observed by shaktas only.
- Sharad or Maha Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).
- Paush Navaratri: Paush Navaratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Tarashi (December–January). Paush Navaratri is observed during the Paush Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
- Magha Navaratri: Magha Navaratri, also referred as Gupta Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (January–February). Magha Navaratri is observed during the Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
In Tamil Nadu women belonging to the Iyer community invite married women to their homes in the evenings and gift them with accessories like bangles, earrings and other items that are symbolic of their marital status. These are suggestive of prayers for their husbands and their long lives. A coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts, and money are also given as gifts to these women. A special recipe called ‘Sundal’ made of lentil seeds and pulses is made on each day and served to the guests. Some also display a `Golu` at their homes. `Golu` is an arrangement made on a make-shift staircase with nine stairs. Each stair symbolizes each day of Navratri. Decorative items, idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed on the stairs. In most cases, the dolls that are used for the ‘Golu’ are handed over from generation to generation.
In Andhra Pradesh `Batukamma Panduga` is celebrated during Navratri especially in the Telangana region. `Batukamma Panduga` means `Come Alive Mother Goddess`. Batuku in Telugu means life and Amma,which means mother. These nine days are dedicated to Shakti and are celebrated in a very unique way. Women prepare `Batukamma` which is actually a beautiful flower stack, arranged with seasonal flowers, in seven layers. It is made to look like a pot made of flowers. So, this festival is devoted to celebrating universal motherhood. Women wear silk sarees and gold ornaments and make the most of these nine days to dig a hole in their husband’s pockets!After preparing their respective Batukamma’s, women gather in the evening for the ritual. They place them in the centre and dance around them by singing folk songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Then they march towards a lake or any other water body and set afloat their Batukammas.
In Kerala, the festival is celebrated only for the last three days of Navratri. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi are of utmost importance as these 3 days are the most auspicious time. During the puja books, musical instruments (if any) are placed in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami for granting them wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading.
In Karnataka, celebration of Navratri dates back to the times of Raja Wodeyar since 1610 AD. People spend these 9 nights in the the same way as were by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. It’s called `Naada Habba’ in the state. However, the basic reason for the celebrations remains the same - victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasur, known to be a resident of Mysore. The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets along with community fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artefacts.
In Maharashtra, The Navratri celebrations in Maharashtra, bear resemblance to Gujarat owing to its geographical proximity to the state. Each and every locality has its own garba and dandiya nights celebrations and the whole family drenches itself in the festive spirit. Women put haldi and kumkum on the foreheads of the married women as a gesture of `Saumangalyam`. Navratri is also an auspicious time to initiate new beginnings, buying a new home or a car. Women invite their friends to their homes and gift them with a coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts.
In beautiful hill state of Himachal Pradesh Navratri is celebrated as community festivals where people meet up with their relatives to collectively pay their respect to the "Almighty". It is the most important festival of Himachal. The 10th day of this grand festive season is called "Kullu Dusshera". Songs and dance are common ways to express devotion and exhibitions of various items are set-up. On Dusshera or Dashami, the deities from the temples of the village are taken out in processions with much fanfare and musical dances.
In most of the northern states that include Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, Punjabis celebrate Navratri by paying obeisance to Goddess Shakti. Most of the people in Punjab go on a fast for the first 7 days. They also organize a jagraata (keeping awake whole night by singing devotional songs dedicated to the Goddess). On the 8th day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by organizing a bhandara (community feast that includes puris and halawa chana). Nine young girls (Kanya) are worshiped as a mark of respect to Devi (Goddess) representing 9 forms of Goddess Durga. These young girls are offered good food and are gifted with a red chunri.