A good workman worships his tools

Dasara celebration begins

A bad workman blames his tools, goes a popular saying. In India people worship their tools. 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 helping one to fulfill one's duties.
The ninth day of the Dasara season is the day of the Ayudha Pooja. Astra (weapon) is a synonym of Ayudha Pooja and therefore the pooja is also called Astra pooja. The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood.

The farmer uses agricultural implements, the blacksmith uses hammer and anvil, the tailor uses the sewing machine and so on. In the recent past, machinery in workshops and typewriters in offices were worshipped.
In modern offices, it is the computer which is worshipped. Poojas are also offered to cars, autorickshaws, trucks and other vehicles.

On the evening preceding Ayudha Pooja, all the tools, implements, vehicles and machines are cleaned, painted and polished, after which they are smeared with sandalwood paste and vermilion. The work area and surroundings are also thoroughly cleaned. People make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day to earn their livelihood. It helps them to see their work as an offering to God.

The tradition of worshipping one's tools goes back into antiquity. Goddess Durga carries numerous weapons, which were given to her by various male deities. Therefore there is a belief that the weapons carried by Durga represent the various forces in Nature - Durga's energy rests in these weapons. After the slaying of Mahishasura and other demons by Chamundeswari, there was no more use for her weapons. So the weapons were kept aside and worshipped. This Ayudha puja is being celebrated since ancient times.

The importance of Ayudha Puja on this occasion may also be due to the fact that on the Vijayadasami day, Arjuna took back his weapons which he had hidden in a banni 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 Vijayadasami day will secure a grand success, as Arjuna did in Kurukshetra war.

Vahana pooja or the worship of vehicles is also performed on this day. In Bangalore, a popular place to perform this pooja is Sri Prasanna Ganapathy Temple on Kasturba Road.

The temple is located diagonally opposite to the Government museum. There is a belief that offering pooja at the temple, which has a three-foot idol in the form of a boulder, keeps one’s vehicles free from accidents.

The shrine is said to be about 500 years old and it is believed that Kempegowda prayed here before going on a hunting expedition. In the 1930s, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, on his way to the Cantonment, visited the temple and offered pooja. Poojas were offered to vehicles in this temple after automobile dealerships opened in and around this place over the years.

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