Ayudha Puja: Festival of Weapons

On the ninth day of Dasara festival, Ayudha Puja, the festival of the worship of implements or weapons is celebrated, the day in which in the modern day homage is worshipped cars, computers, machinery and mechanical work tools. The bikes or cars, but also the threshing machine or a lathe, are washed with care, adorned with a garland of flowers, and are offered coconut, pomegranate, bananas, puffed rice and sweet and then sprayed with sandalwood paste, turmeric and kumkum.

The ceremony begins with the making of a Kolam at the entrance of the house. People light the camphor to create a sacred smoke, turns with a tray around the machine, burn incense and crush two green limes under the tires of bikes or cars. The ceremony lasts about twenty minutes. Then the machines are allowed to stand all day.

More than an animist or pagan rite, as it was once, it is a pantheistic ritual, as it pays tribute to the divine force that operates in the instruments and who lives the whole. And then also a car. Initially, it was a rite of the worship of weapons, but in the modern era in which weapons are instruments of labor, even computers and typewriters are worshiped in this way.

The origin of this cult is the fact that after the victory of Durga over Mahishasura, the weapons used to kill the demon were put to the shelter to be venerated and thank the gods. For this ritual, machinery, tools, vehicles are first thoroughly cleaned and they are richly decorated with flowers and garlands. These instruments are then subject of prayers and offerings such as coconuts, flowers and they are left to rest for the day.

Ayudha Pooja is a highly visible celebration as manifested in the streets and corridors of buildings. All types of vehicles, including bicycles, will be on the streets after washing with water and decorated with flowers. It's a treat to watch drivers going for a joyful ride on their trucks, cars, vans while playing their favorite music loudly.

For the students, it is the specific ritual to worship Saraswathi, the Goddess of Knowledge. After the pooja priests bless the students by applying sandanam and kumkum on the forehead. Children get bananas, apples, cooked chickpeas and rice seeds as prasadam. The teachers also receive a box of special sweets sold on these days for the occasion.