It is currently Dussera in India. As far as I can tell, it is an almost Christmas-like festival. It lasts for ten days and nights and culminates with a celebration of good winning over evil during the Durga Pooja, to be held tomorrow. The actual story celebrated – at least in South India – is the goddess, Durga, winning her battle against the demon Mahishasura; whose home the south Indian city of Mysore is named after.
One of the interesting things about Dussera is that many places are decorated with what westerners could best describe as Christmas lights; lots of Christmas lights. Some people also decorate their homes with makeshift stairs. On these stairs, covered with white cloth, are idols representing all of the gods and goddesses who came down to earth to watch the battle between Durga and Mahishasura. The stairs below are from the home of Daniela’s boss during the year we are in India. They are a Brahman family and apparently there is a long tradition of spending many months every year hand crafting new idols to add to the collection; which grows every year. It resides next to their Pooja corner, which is heavily decorated with pictures of gods and goddesses, as well as famous gurus and yogis. I’m not sure how common it is for people to actually do this. A couple of people (non-Brahmans) who I have asked about it do not build these stairs.
Another common thing is to conduct a pooja with vehicles or anything work related. This is done to bring good luck. A carpenter might bless his tools this way. The Palm Meadows electricians blessed the transformer down the street. Many businesses were blessed and everyone it seems blesses vehicles. Our neighbor next door had his two cars blessed. They were each decorated with a string of flowers, had four bindhis painted onto each tire and had a lime positioned under each tire so that it would be crushed when the vehicle started moving. It is common to conclude poojas by breaking a fruit – often a melon – and driving away was the conclusion of this pooja.