Ayudha Puja- Worshipping Weapons and Tools
Ayudha puja, also known as Shastra puja means worshipping of implements. The ritual is an integral part of Navratri and is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright lunar fortnight in the month of Ashwin, corresponding to September-October, according to the Gregorian calendar. It is majorly celebrated in the Southern states of India and is also known by various names e.g., it is called ‘Ayudha Puje’ in Karnataka whereas it is known as ‘Ayuda Pujai’ in Tamil Nadu. In Orissa, people celebrate the day as ‘Astra Puja’.
In earlier times, only weapons were worshipped, but with changing times other tools and instruments of craftsmanship are also worshipped. The day is often confused with Vishwakarma Puja but both the festival have different significance and rituals.
The festival has only turned into Vahana puja when people worship their vehicles brought both for personal use like cars used commuting and professional use like trucks used for transporting
There are two legends related to the performance of Ayudha puja. According to one legend, when Chamundeshwari killed Mahishasura, He was a demon who had the power to transform into a buffalo at will. He was blessed by Brahma that no man could kill him. He wanted to take over the heaven and conquer the universe. Durga failed him in his attempt by fighting and killing him. According to some legends, he is believed to be a great devotee of Durga, who played her enemy on her request as she wanted to teach the value of heaven to various Gods her weapons were no more needed. Thus they were placed aside and worshipped, to rejoice in her victory and the end of an evil era.
According to Mahabharata, Arjuna possessed weapons which would help him win any battle. He, along with brothers, was sent to an exile and before going away, he hid all his weapons so that they do not fall in possession of evil people. When he returned back, it was time to fight against his cousin brothers, Kauravas. They were the descendants of Kuru. Duryodhana was considered the most important Kaurava. They were hundred in number and had only one sister named Dushala. They were parented by Gandhari and Dhritarashtra. They fought against the Pandavas in the war of Mahabharata. They also didn’t want the Pandavas to rule and thus also sent them into exile.
He came back on this very day and retrieved his weapons which ensured victory. Thus it is believed that whoever begins a new venture on this day, attains success.
The weapons are first kept at an altar which is decorated with flowers. They are then cleaned and if required washed. They are often placed next to the idols of LakshmiLakshmi
Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess who is regarded as the ultimate deity of wealth..., SaraswatiSaraswati
The name Saraswati is a combination of two Sanskrit words... and ParvatiParvati
After the death of Shiva's first love Sati, Shiva.... A mark of vermilion is put on the tools and then they are worshipped by chanting mantras. The instruments are not to be put in use on this day.
For worshipping or welcoming a new vehicle, people decorate them by applying vermillion and turmeric. Flowers, mango leaves and banana saplings are also used for the adornment. A coconut or a pumpkin is smashed right in front of the vehicle to keep it away from any evil or damage.
Earlier human sacrifice was also the part of the ritual but it faded away and now in some parts people sacrifice animals to complete the ceremony, but not necessarily.
People show respect to their own profession by following the rituals related to Ayudha Puja. It is not compulsory only to worship the instruments that are used in wars, books are worshipped as the instruments of knowledge and children hope to understand and score well in their field of education, music instruments are the tools of learning and teaching for a musician, singer and dancer, farmers pay respect to their tools of cultivation like plough whereas an artisan can worship his tools of making and mending from which he earns his livelihood.
The importance of this festival is to show gratitude to God for showering one with duties and responsibilities and giving them the opportunity of completing it successfully. It is a way of showing reverence to what one does for his living.