The colourful stage is set for 9 nights of celebration across India

Tonight, over 1 billion people will begin celebrations for one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar.

Preparations began earlier this week for the event – called Sharad Navaratri, in full – which takes place over nine nights every autumn in celebration of the Hindu mother goddess, Durga.

Almost 80 per cent of India’s population identify as Hindu, making this festival an extremely important event in the calendar.

Navaratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions: For many people, it is a time of religious reflection and fasting. For others, it’s a time for dancing and feasting.

In the western state of Gujarat, celebrations include the traditional Garba dance. This is

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