21st OCTOBER 2015 AYUDHA PUJA/ASTRA PUJA/VHANA PUJA
Ayudha Puja is an integral part of the Dassera festival (festival of triumph), a Hindu festival which is traditionally celebrated in India. It is also called "Astra Puja", the synonym for Ayudha Puja. In simple terms, it means “Worship of Implements”. It is celebrated in Karnataka (in erstwhile Mysore State) as “Ayudha Puje” (Kannada:ಆಯುಧ ಪುಜೆ), in Tamilnadu as Ayuda Pujai (Tamil:ஆயுத பூஜை) and in Kerala as Ayuda Puja (Malayalam:ആയുധ പൂജ). The festival falls on the ninth day or Navami of the bright half of Moon's cycle of 15 days (as per Almanac) in the month of September/October, and is popularly a part of the Dassera or Navaratri or Durga Puja or Golu festival. On the ninth day of the Dassera festival, weapons and tools are worshipped. In Karnataka, the celebration is for killing of the demon king Mahishasura by goddess Chamundeshwari. After slaying of the demon king, the weapons were kept out for worship. While Navaratri festival is observed all over the country but in South Indian states, where it is widely celebrated as Ayudha Puja, there are slight variations of worship procedure.
The principal shakthi goddesses worshipped during the Ayudha puja are Saraswathi (the Goddess of wisdom, arts and literature), Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Durga (the divine shakthi), apart from various types of equipment; it is on this occasion when weapons are worshipped by soldiers and tools are revered by artisans.The Puja is considered a meaningful custom, which focuses specific attention to one’s profession and its related tools and connotes that a divine force is working behind it to perform well and for getting the proper reward.
Ayudha Puja is observed on ninth day of Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in Ashwin month. In Tamil Nadu, Ayuda Pooja is in Puratasi month and in Kerala it is in the Kanni month. Ayudha Puja 2009 date is September 27. Literally, Ayudha Puja means the worship of weapons. On the day books, tools and objects used for making a living is worshipped and ritual purification is performed.
Goddess Durga carries numerous weapons which were given to her by various male deities. Therefore there is a belief that the weapons carried by Durga represent the various forces in Nature – Durga’s energy rests in these weapons.
After the slaying of Mahishasura and other demons by Chamundeswari, there was no more use for her weapons. So the weapons were kept aside and worshipped. This Ayudha puja is being celebrated since ancient times. The importance of Ayudha Puja on this occasion may also be due to the fact that on the Vijayadasami day, Arjuna took back his weapons which he had hidden in a Vani tree in order to lead a life in disguise for the promised period of exile. It is believed that one who begins or renovates his learning to work on the Vijayadasami day will secure a grand success as Arjuna did in Kurukshetra war.
The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one's work as an offering to God. It will also help one to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. In India it is customary for one to prostrate before the tools one will use before starting one's work each day; this is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one to fulfil one's duties.
Dr.Ramesh Kamath and his wife Kiranmayi worshipping their CAR during Ayudha Pooja 2009
The tools and all implements of vocation are first cleaned. All the tools, machines, vehicles and other devices are then painted or well polished after which they are smeared with turmeric paste, sandalwood paste (in the form of a tilak (insignia or mark) and Kumkum (vermillion). Then, in the evening, previous to the puja day, they are placed on an earmarked platform and decorated with flowers. In the case of weapons of war, they are also cleaned, bedecked with flowers and tilak and placed in a line, adjacent to a wall. On the morning of the puja that is on the navami day, they are all worshipped along with the images of Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvati. Books and musical instruments are also placed on the pedestal for worship. On the day of the puja, these are not to be disturbed. The day is spent in worship and contemplation.
Worship of Tools is a beautiful concept because it reminds us of our dependence on the tools, the danger posed by them, and hence the concept is analogous to the fear and necessity posed by divinity. We notice that even Indians who are opposed to idolatry, practice some form of tool worship.
Staffs are offered with Gifts and Sweets During Ayudha Pooja
In the cross cultural development that has revolutionized the society, with modern science making a lasting impact on the scientific knowledge and industrial base in India, the ethos of the old religious order is retained by worship of Machinaries,computers and Transport Vehicles also during the Ayudha Puja, in the same manner as practised in the past for weapons of warfare. Also the staff members who are safeguarding the valuable machinaries like Security staffs, Drivers and servants are honoured and offer gifts during this Aydha Pooja by their masters.