Nava means nine or new and ratri means night or that which protects (raati iti ratri). Navaratri indicates nine days of protection. Since the main Puja is the Puja at night, it is called Navaratri. This is a day of victory; not over someone outside, but on our own negativities.
In the days of Navarathri, we should give up all that is negative and we should take up all the six great qualities inside us. There are six bakyavratas which is what we should do on these days.
Upavasa is to stay with/ near the Lord. We should not eat grains. Only fruits and milk can be consumed. On the second night the entire day and night we should not sleep. On the third day we should chant continuous japa ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ the entire day. On the fourth day, the entire day and night we should read the Shiva purana stories and on the 6th day, we should perform homa to please the Lord. These are the six vratas outside and the six vratas inside. The worship for these entire six days invoke the Lord’s grace with us and helps us come out of this never ending circle of janamadradha.
The day of Dassera, also known as Vijayadashami is very very auspicious as this day is worshipped as the day Devi killed the demon Mahishaasura, Lord Sree Ramachandra killed Raavana & also the Paandavas took back their weapons after the Vanavaas & Ajnaatavaas.
This day is celebrated as the day of victory; not over someone outside, but on our own negativities!. If Navaratri shows different sadhanas, Vijayaadashami shows the dawn of the Supreme Knowledge. Mother is worshipped as Sree Saraswati – the Goddess of Knowledge. The ninth & last step/ form of Navadhaa Bhakti is Aatmanivedanam – Surrendering oneself totally at the lotus feet of the Lord. This is the final stage, where nothing remains mine. Everything is God’s. This highest stage of Devotion is the Liberation itself. May by Mother’s grace we kill our negativities, like Shri Raamachandra killed Raavana on this day. May She give us the Knowledge by which we will be able to attain Liberation.