Navaratri is one of the most colorful, dutiful and longest festival observed by Hindus in India. A nine day festival Navaratri (Nava means nine, Ratri means night) is also called as Dasara/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.
The penultimate day of the festival is dedicated to what is termed Aayudha Puja. The Hindus, on this day, Worship of arms, ammunitions, weapons, hardware and the software. In substance the weapons to be worshiped are the divine powers in man. When the divine is worshiped in this way, one is bound to progress materially and spiritually.
According to Indian Mythology, after the slaying of Mahishasura and other terrorists by Chamundeswari, there was no more use for her weapons. So the weapons were kept aside and worshiped. This Ayudha puja is being celebrated since time immemorial.
The importance of Ayudha Puja on this occasion may also be due to the fact that on the Vijayadashami day, Arjuna took back his weapons which he had hidden in a Bani 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 tenth day-Vijayadashami will secure a grand success as Partha did in Kurukshetra warfare.
Be it the plough, be it a vegetable cutter or be it Soorya Kiran Air Craft, the Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in day-to-day life. 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.
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!