Sharada Navaratri is the most celebrated of the four Navaratri, named after Sharada which means autumn. It commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during this month, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. The exact dates of the festival are determined according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and sometimes the festival may be held for a day more or a day less depending on the adjustments for sun and moon movements and the leap year. In many regions, the festival falls after the autumn harvest, and in others, during harvest.
The festivities extend beyond goddess Durga and various other goddesses such as Saraswati and Lakshmi. Gods such as Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, and Parvati are regionally revered. For example, a notable pan-Hindu tradition during Navaratri is the adoration of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music, and arts, through Ayudha Puja. On this day, which typically falls on the ninth day of Navaratri, peace and knowledge is celebrated. Warriors thank, decorate, and worship their weapons, offering prayers to Saraswati. Musicians upkeep, play, and pray their musical instruments. Farmers, carpenters, smiths, pottery makers, shopkeepers, and all sorts of tradespeople similarly decorate and worship their equipment, machinery, and tools of trade. Students visit their teachers, express respect, and seek their blessings. This tradition is particularly strong in South India, but is observed elsewhere too.