New Delhi, Mar 27 (ANI): The nation is celebrating Ugadi, Chaitra and Navratra, the official beginning of summer according to the Hindu calendar on Friday.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has sent her best wishes to the people on the occasion.
In her message, she said that these festivals celebrated in a wide variety of ways in different parts of the country, reflect our diversity and yet underline the unity of the nation.
She further said that such festivals reinforce the common bond of togetherness of our people and ensure progress, prosperity and peace.
Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have also greeted the people on the occasion.
The nine-day festival is celebrated twice a year before the start of summer (Chaitra Navratra) and at the beginning of winter (Shardiya Navratra).
Devotees across the country worship Hindu goddesses and hold fasts.
There is a popular belief that the fasting during Chaitra Navrati is to prepare the body for the ensuing summer season.
Jammu and Kashmir witnesses a huge rush of devotees during Navratras as many people visit the holy shrine of Goddess Vaishnodevi.
Chaitra Navratri is most famous in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and in other parts of North India.
Temporary stalls are set up by the road side or near the temples selling traditional goods for the festival such as diyas of all sizes, coconuts, clay pottery (matkas), dupattas for women, wrist-bands, special garlands made of marigold and other flowers, beads, and agarbatti sticks.
Chaitra Navratra is known by different names like Ram Navratri, Vasant Navratri, Basant Navrathri and some people also refer it as Spring Navaratras. (ANI)