Chaitra Navaratri began on Apr 4, 2011 and will go on till Apr 12. The month of Chaitra is a major celebration time for Hindus.
Chaitra is the first month of the Hindu year for those who follow the calendars of Andhra, Karnataka and Maharasthra. In Andhra and Karnataka, the beginning of Chaitra marks the celebration of Ugadi (pronounced yug-aadi), literally meaning "the beginning of a time period". In Maharashtra, it is the festival of Gudi Padwa. The second day of Chaitra marks the celebration of Cheti Chand, the new year for Sindh.
The first nine days of the month are dedicated to Durga, the divine mother. Chaitra Navratri is a popular festive season in North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Durga Ashtami, the eighth night of Navaratri is Durga Ashtami, the most auspicious day for Durga puja. It is customary to invite pre-pubescent girls as representatives of Durga. The host washes their feet, serves them dinner and gives them a red sari as a gift.
This festival of nine nights, Chaitra Navratri ends with Ramnavami which marks the birth, the coronation and the marriage anniversary of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu.
The tenth day of Chaitra is celebrated as Bisu in Kerala.