The priestesses are part of a feminist push to make Hinduism more inclusive. Some have begun officiating at Indian weddings stripped of patriarchal traditions: No more "donating" brides to in-laws.
The holiday, which marks the new year, is observed over five days in various ways, from decorating with lights, praying at the temple and feasts with loved ones. Much of that is different this year.
The 1992 destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu extremists sparked riots that killed thousands of Muslims, leaving a deep rift between the country's religious communities.