Chaitra Navratri is celebrated in the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. This generally falls during the month of May or April. As the name suggests, the festival is observed for a period of nine nights. The three forms of the Goddess are worshipped during Chaitra Navratri. For the first three nights, Maa Durga is worshipped, followed by Maa Lakshmi and Maa Saraswati.
The Goddess is worshipped with ardor during these festivities to mark her victory over evil as depicted by the demon Mahisashura. Chaitra Navratri ends on Ram Navami Day. The festival is also known as Ram Navratri and Vasant Navratri.
Chaitra Navratri is more intensely celebrated in North India, including the states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. It is a time of both fasting and feasting. Most people take a vegetarian, special diet during the Navratras. The belief is that the fasting and vegetarian diet helps to prepare the body for the coming summer months.
Special Pooja Pandals are set up and Garba dances are held in some parts of the country. People visit temples of the Goddess. In North India, Shakti temples organize fairs to observe the Navratras.
The Navratras are an intensely religious time for believers and tourists can observe the various ceremonies. The Shakti temples are decorated during this time and the special Pooja Pandals are also worth visiting. In keeping with religious sentiments, it will be better to follow a vegetarian diet before visiting the temples.