Durga Pooja or Dusshera marks the 10 days celebration of worshipping Goddess Durga. It marks the victory of Goddess Kali over Mahishashur and also Lord Ram over Ravana. In short it marks the victory of good over evil, victory of dharma (justice) over the unjust. A 9 day celebration of the different forms of the Goddess and with the 10th day Vijayadasami marking the day of victory. The Northern Part of India celebrate the festival as Durga Pooja, Ram Leela, while the south celebrate Dusshera.;
Garbha or Dandiya, are part of the Navratri celebration in the Northern part of the country and now are a trend in most major cities of South too. Various pandals are set up with idol of Durga and Kali being worshipped. Kali being the feirce (ugra rupa) form is seen lesser, where as Durga being the calm form is seen more often in pandals. The idol is revered and worshiped for the 10 days and then immersed in water just like it's done for Ganesh pooja. In the southern part of the country the Goddess is dressed up as a different avatar each day and each day the offering also is different.;
Remembering of my childhood days of Dusshera, reminds me of the 10 day vacation from school. But at home everyday a new delicacy to relish. Because it marks the worship of a goddess, my mom was keen that, I should be dressed up really well and not look dull or wear shabby clothes. Every Dusshera she invites 9 girls, one each day and gifts them clothes, sweets and bangles. Ask her why? and she used to say it's a belief that the Goddess is taking it or you worship the goddess like that. My cousin, fasts all 9 days and has a Nitya deepam ( a clay pot filled with oil and a cotton wick that is lit on the first day and not let to die down). After the Pooja on the 10th day she lets it afloat in water with the wick lit.;
The offerings or bhog range from pulihogare, coconut rice, payasam, sweet Pongal of two versions, the spice Pongal, Vadas, ambali ( made with ragi specific to South). Some people also follow wearing specific coloured dresses or attires to mark the Avatar of Goddess that day. In some traditions people have "Bomma gollu or bommala kolluvu " specific to South again, where women arrange and set up various toys beautifully in a theme or at random and it's worshipped for all 10 days along with inviting other women for haldi kumkum. Some kids also fly kites which is more traditional to Sankranti. This is my knowledge about the festival, do share yours.