Didn't I warn you that it is non stop holidays during this time of the year? :)
You may have seen Sita reference this holiday in the comments. It is indeed time to start preparing for the next one. I hope that in future years this will be smoother for me, but this being my first year celebrating the holidays, it is extremely overwhelming and they just keep coming!
Navaratri starts this year on Friday October 8th and goes for nine days. In fact, the name means "Nine Nights." Then a tenth day, culminating the holiday, is called Dussehra.
One of the things I like about this festival is that it is focused on the feminine side of the divine. It worships the divine mother. The first three days are devoted to Dhurga, a warrior and a very strong female. The second three days are devoted to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity and the final three days are devoted to Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and learning. All are forms of shakti, the female divine energy. Other forms of shakti are also worshiped, in some places there is a different goddess for each day.
According to Wikipedia there are actually a number of Navatri holidays throughout the year, but this one is the most important, the Maha Navatri.
I'm told that it is celebrated differently in different places. In some places, steps are placed with idols on them, which is called golu.
In other places, the Garba dance is performed. Here's an example of Garba:
This is a time to respect and be grateful for the tools of trade and in South India, children often start school at the end of this holiday.
Anyone who knows of any misinformation here, please let me know and I'll edit it! Thanks.