Joyous Navaratri celebrations

Hindu women applying sindhoor (vermilion powder) on each other's faces after worshipping the idol of the goddess Durga on the last day of Navaratri in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Indians across the country celebrated the nine-day festival with pomp after two years of muted celebrations and cancellations because of Covid-19.

Navaratri is celebrated throughout India with different rituals and activities. Celebrations last for days and are marked by songs, dances and large processions. People visit family and friends, exchange sweets and gifts and wear traditional outfits.

In some places, the festival involves nine nights of Durga Puja to commemorate goddess Durga's slaying of the buffalo demon Mahishasur.

There are praying, singing and dancing sessions, and devotees set up elaborate stage decoration known as "pandal".

In Singapore, the Indian diaspora celebrated Navaratri with great gusto. Devotees in ethnic clothes grooved to the music and participated in Durga Puja pandals.

"This year, we got a chance to celebrate Navaratri for the full nine days. There are beautiful pandals set up, which bring a lot of joy to us," a woman from Kolkata told ANI.

On the 10th day of festivities, celebrations denoting Hindu god Ram's vanquishing of the 10-headed demon king Ravan are held.

Effigies of Ravan, his brother and son are burnt to mark the victory of good over evil. Large crowds gather to watch this spectacle and erupt into cheers as crackling flames engulf the effigies. Sometimes, firecrackers are lit in tandem.

Navaratri also marks the beginning of preparations for Deepavali, which falls on Oct 24 this year.

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