Navaratri - A nine day festival Navaratri (Nava means nine, Ratri means night) is also called as Ayudha PoojaDasara/Dushhera which usually falls some time between last week of September and first week of October. The dates are set according to the Hindu calender.

Navarathri means ‘nine nights’. What does the nine signify? There are nine grahas (planets. The human has nine openings. If a deep inquiry is made, it will be found that mankind is dependent on the planets (grahas). Although astrologers speak about nine planets, in reality, there are only two ‘planets’ that matter. They are raaga (attachment) and dwesha (hatred).

In the worship of the deities during Navarathri, every day, one of them should be worshiped, not only externally but with one’s heart and soul. Therefore, the Navarathri festival is observed, by contemplating on God for ten days, cleansing one’s self of all impurities, to experience the divinity within.

Ayudha Puja, also known as the ‘Astra Puja’ is an essential part of Dusshera, the 10 days long festival of victory. Ayudha Puja is the festival of weapons as indicated by the word ‘Ayudha’ which means weapon in Sanskrit. It is celebrated on the 9th day of Dusshera mainly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India. This festival also includes worshiping the implements which are used to earn living; so that one may be successful in his endeavors. Saraswati Puja is also performed with Ayudha Puja in some parts of India. In North India though Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the month of January/February.

Legend of Ayudha Puja
According to the Hindu epic Mahabharata, on the day of Vijayadashami, the 10th day of Dusshera, Arjun retrieved his divine weapons was hidden in a tree by him in order to lead a life of incognito for a particular period of exile. Therefore it is believed that the person who renovates or revamp their learning on this auspicious day will be crowned with success as Arjun was in the battle of Kurukshetra.

Celebrations and Rituals of Ayudha Puja
On this auspicious day, all implements whether weapons of soldiers or tools of artisans are revered. They are cleaned and polished first and then smeared with sandalwood paste and vermilion. On the eve of the festival the instruments are placed on an allotted platform and decked with flowers and garlands. Even weapons of war are decorated and placed in a line to be worshiped. All these implements are placed in front of the images of goddess Saraswati (goddess of learning), Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and Parvati (Divine mother of all creations) and worshipped with great devotion. It is held that when these implements receive divine blessings, they always secure success for the user.
Significance of Ayudha Pooja
Ayudha Puja has been celebrated in India since ancient times. The celebration of this festival is about understanding that work is no less than worship and accordingly one resolves to make good use of the resources for which he is endowed with the purpose of leading a respectable life.

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 granting us the tools to fulfill our duties.

Although the nine day festival is observed in homes, offices, workshops and temples, the Ayudha pooja is a widely visible festival as it is manifested on the streets and corridors of buildings. All types of Vehicles including the bicycles will be out in the streets after grand water wash and decorated with flowers and frills. Its a treat to watch drivers going for a jolly ride on their trucks, cars, vans, coaches playing their favorite music, a bit loudly!


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