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Do different parts of india celebrate the festival for different reasons? I have heard that for Bengalis Durga puja signifies Durga returning to her parents' home from Kailash to spend time with them.

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  • Do you want only legends of bengal or any place ok? Btw, related question Why Goddess Durga was worshiped on dusshera?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 16:32
  • all major legends - also what is the difference between durga puja and kali puja, if any. @the destoyer
    – S K
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 16:38

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This answer is only with reference to Durga Puja - specifically in Bengal. The answer is sourced from Wikipedia and also other sources from the net. No scriptural reference is available with me for the legend.

The Akaal Bodhan Sharadiya Durgostab celebrated in Bengal is the most important event in the Bengali calendar - though Bengalis have their festivals throughout the year, it is said "Baro Mashe tero Porbon" i.e in twelve months thirteen festivals.

Sharadiya (Autumn) Durgostab also coincides with Dusshera - Dasa Hara - the commonly held belief that Sri Rama slew Ravaana on this day. Bengal also celebrates Basanti (Spring) Durgotsab. Basanti Durga rides an ass, while Sharadiya Durga is the Sherawali slayer of Mahishasura.

On Mahalaya Day, the eve of Sharadiya Navaratri, at dawn Bengal resounds with the sound of Chandi Paat, the recitation of the battle of Devi Durga with the demonic hordes led by Mahishasura. The belief is the battle lasted six days and mahishasura was killed on the evening / night of Panchami.

Tired of the battle and wanting to recuperate, Maa Durga, with the permission of Her consort Lord Shiva comes down to the plains of Bharatavarsha, Her parents house along with ther children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartick. She arrives on Sashti day and remains with her parents for four days - Sahsti, Saptami, Ashtami and Navami departing for Her husband's abode on the afternoon/ evening of Dashami day. To herald Her departure - Neelkanta Pakhi - Blue birds are freed who are supposed to go to Mount Kailash to inform Lord Shiva about the return of Durga and Her family.

how far this belief will stand scrutiny of the scriptures is a moot point. Srimad Devi Puranam (Bhagavatam) states that Lakshmi and Saraswati are forms of Adi Shakti herself, who took on these forms to live with Vishnu and Brahma. There is no mention of them being the daughters of Adi Shakti (Kali / Parvati)

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All the names you have mentioned in this question have different anecdotes and are different.

As you asked about Kali puja, thus Kali since being linked with Amasvasya, is worshipped on Amavasya of every month. But Kali pujas like Phalaharini was started by Ramkrishno Paramhamso. Kali puja done in Navaratri (more aptly called Sandhi Puja) is done because at the time of sandhi of Ashtami & Navami tithi Kali(Chamunda) killed Chanda Munda.

Dusshera is always the day of victory for Rām as well as Chandi. And everyone knows the itihas behind it.

Now, as per Tantra & Puranic Shastras Durga puja and Navratri are completely different festives, thou they fall on same time.
Durga puja is exclusively for Devi Durga. Durga Puja can be scheduled for 15, 9 or 4 days as per, the Tantric Vidhan followed. For example in Kamakhya and Belur math, the Durga Puja lasts for 15 days. And thus there is no hard and fast rule of 9 days.
Whereas Navratri is strict 9 days puja to devi and is more of Puranic vrat. (There are even Ganga Navaratris, Ramsa pir Navratri, Datta Navaratri, etc. Thus Navaratri is the festive to any deity that occurs for 9 days).

Each Navratri has it's own shastric and Lokachar references.
The Chaitra Navratri as per Lokamata marks the fight of Vaishnodevi with Bhairavnath for 9 days.
The Lokachar in Bengal believes that Dugga(Durga) visits her maternal home in Shardiya Navratri. So, there are endless Lokachar kathas.
And each is true as per their bhaav for devi...

I couldn't find anything about Chaitra Navratri story in scriptures.

But, the anecdote of how shardiya Navratri started, is mentioned in Kalika Puran. The purpose of akalbodan or untimely invocation of devi was to ensure your destruction of Ravana and victory of Shri Ram Chandra and this is closely related to Uttarayan summer solistics.

The verses from Kalika Puran,Chapter 'Mahishasura upakhyan' states as follows,

In the olden times in order to kill Ravana and bless Sri Rama, Brahma Dev did the invocation of Devi at night. After that she gave up on her resting phase and enter into the Nanda tithi of Shukla paksha of Ashwin Maas. Then from where she was been worshipped by Rām, she went to Lanka. Soon after going there, she allowed the Ram and Ravana to start the duel. The battle between Ram and the Army of Ravana lasted till the Saptami Tithi. The devi was thus worshipped for the 7 days by devta to ensure complete victory of Ram. And finally Ram killed Ravana on the Navami Tithi. Thus, she was again worshiped by all deities on Navami. The lord of all worlds, Brahma himself did this special Puja of Durga Devi. Thus with Sarvarotsav, the Devi was bid farewell on the tenth day, that is on Dashmi.

Shri panchanan Vedant Shastri, explains that,

""Since Bhadrakali was in the favour of Ravana Sri Ramachandra wasn't able to slay him. It wasn't good time period for Shri Ram. At that unfavourable time "Akal", Shriram invoked devi at her own instructions."

3rd Skandha, Chapter 30 - On the narration of the Navarātra ceremony by Nārada and the performance of that by Rāma Chandra

41-42. Vyāsa said :-- Then the powerful Bhagavān Hari, hearing all from the Muni, believed them to be true; and, on the approach of the month of Āśvin, prepared the altar on the top of a hill and placed the Auspicious Goddess, the World Mother and, observing all the rules, performed the vow and worshipped the Goddess.
43. Fasting for nine days, Rāma celebrated the vow and duly offered sacrifices, performed the worship and Homa ceremonies.

On explaining the importance of Ashwin Navratri various shlokas can be found.

Durga Saptashati, 12th Chapter-

शरत्काले महापूजा क्रियते या च वार्षिकी।
तस्यां ममैतन्माहात्म्यं श्रुत्वा भक्तिसमन्वितः॥12॥
सर्वाबाधा*विनिर्मुक्तो धनधान्यसुतान्वितः।
मनुष्यो मत्प्रसादेन भविष्यति न संशयः॥13॥
During autumnal seasson(Ashwin/Shardiya), when the great annual worship is performed, the man hearing this glorification of mine with devotion shall certainly through my grace, be delivered without doubt from all troubles and be blessed with riches, grains and children.

Devi Bhagwatam 5th Skandha, Chapter 34 - On the methods of the worship of the Devī.

In the bright fortnight of the month of Āsvin or Caitra, is to be observed the fasting of the Navarātra by those who desire for their own welfare.
Whoever celebrates the holy Navarātra ceremony in the bright fortnight of the month of Āśvin with his heart full of the thought of the Devī, gets all his desired fruits. 

Thus amongst all 4 Navratris Shardiya Navratri has the highest significance.

कालिकार्पणमास्तु 🌺।

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