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Ready for nine nights of dancing

Women dressed in traditional attire posing for a photograph after taking part in rehearsals on Sunday for a traditional dance, known as garba, ahead of the Navratri festival in Ahmedabad, India.

Navratri, held in honour of Hindu goddess Durga and her various forms, is celebrated over a period of nine days when thousands of young people dance the night away in traditional costumes.

"Nav" means nine and "ratri" means night in Sanskrit, hence Navratri means nine nights of celebration.

One of the greatest Hindu festivals, Navratri holds great significance and is celebrated all over India and Nepal, 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 and fasts. They wear new clothes, prepare delicacies, and buy gifts for family and friends. The celebrations conclude with the festival of Dussehra, on the tenth day.

Navratri usually takes place in September or October. This year, the festival begins today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2015, with the headline 'Ready for nine nights of dancing'. Print Edition | Subscribe