While there are various reasons behind the celebration of the nine-day festival, all the stories from folklore have one theme in common – the victory of Good over Evil. There are primarily two stories which form the basis of history of the divine festival.
First of the two legendary stories is the one which is followed by the Northern and Western parts of the country. It is the victory of lord Rama over the cruel and demonic Ravana, the one who kidnapped his wife, Sita. The nine days of the navaratri see the recital or enactment of the epic ‘Ramayana’ and the tenth day is the final fight between lord Rama and Ravana. Rama kills the ten-headed Ravana by shooting an arrow in his navel, the source of his power and Ravana dies. The same is also presented in Ramlila which concludes on the tenth day, that is Dussehra. The celebration concludes by the burning of the effigies of Ravana and his brothers Meghnad and Kumbhkaran.
The second story is about goddess Durga. It is the main reason behind the celebration in Eastern and Northeastern states of India. It is believed that goddess Durga battled with the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore peace and Dharma. She was successful and her success is commemorated every year through the Durga Pooja. The story is written in the epic ‘Devi Mahatmya’.
However, in the Southern states of the country, Navratri is celebrated by worshipping different goddesses and celebrating their victory.