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What is Shastra Puja and how it is related to Navratri and Dussehra?

On Dussehra, weapons and other instruments of the goddess are worshipped. The ritual is called Shastra Puja or Ayudha Puja.

What is Shastra Puja and how it is related to Navratri and Dussehra?
Pic Courtesy: Pixabay (Representational Use Only)

New Delhi: It is that time of the year when Navratri and Durga Puja spirit grips the nation. The two festivals celebrate Goddess Durga—Shakti in her full glory. The goddess killed Mahishasura—the buffalo demon king and marked the victory of good over evil.

Navratri began this year from September 29 and will end on October 7 while Durga Puja is a 5-day long festival starting from October 3 respectively. On October 8, Vijayadashami or Dussehra will be celebrated where once again by burning the effigy of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakarana—the message will be loud and clear—the victory of good over evil.

On Dussehra, weapons and other instruments of the goddess are worshipped. The ritual is called Shastra Puja or Ayudha Puja. It is celebrated in various parts of the country and the name might differ, depending upon each region. The Ayudha Puja falls on the tenth day of the bright half of Moon's cycle of 15 days (as per Almanac) during September or October. It is part of the Dussehra, Navratri, Durga Puja or Golu festivals. 

In Karnataka, it celebrates the killing of demon king Mahishasura by goddess Durga. There is a belief that after the goddess took the demon's life, her weapons were worshipped by the gods.

During Shastra or Ayudha Puja, Goddess Laxmi, Saraswati and Parvati are worshipped. There are various legends associated with the puja ranging from the Kurukshetra war to Tamil Nadu' version of the Mahabharata epic. The tales might vary but the essence of worshipping the weapons remains the same.

Usually, it takes place on the Navami day of Navratri where all the weapons and tools are first cleaned then a tilak (sandalwood, turmeric and kumkum paste) is applied and placed on a decorated area with flowers. Goddesses Parvati, Laxmi and Saraswati idols are placed in front of the weapons and prayers are offered to them. Books and musical instruments are also prayed to on this day and the entire day is spent worshipping these without any disturbance.

On this day, weapons and other tools or equipment are worshipped by soldiers and artisans—seeking blessings from the goddesses.

According to Drikpanchang.com, here are the Ayudha Puja mahurat timings:

Ayudha Puja on Monday, October 7, 2019
Ayudha Puja Vijaya Muhurat - 02:05 PM to 02:51 PM
Duration - 00 Hours 46 Mins
Mysore Dasara on Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Navami Tithi Begins - 10:54 AM on Oct 06, 2019
Navami Tithi Ends - 12:38 PM on Oct 07, 2019

On a related note, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who will be heading to France on October 7 to receive the first Rafale fighter jet on his three-day visit stay will be performing Shastra Puja on Dussehra.

Rajnath Singh will perform the Shastra Puja on the French port city of Bordeaux on Dussehra after receiving the first Rafale fighter jet at Merignac suburb of Bordeaux on Tuesday.