Tuesday, October 30, 2012


 For the past week here in Coimbatore we have been in the midst of Navaratri celebrations! The nine night Hindu holiday celebrates the goddess Durga, an embodiment of shakti or power. There are several festivities that fall under this holiday.

Ayudha Pooja at a local factory.
One of them is Ayudha Pooja, when people ask the gods to bless their industries. During this holiday, machines are turned off to rest and then given a thorough cleaning for a new year. Then everyone at the company pauses to attend pooja (worship) to thank the gods for their success in the past year and to ask for their blessing in the coming one.

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We went to a local factory  to observe the rituals behind this holiday. As the employees made offerings of coconuts and bananas before images of Ganesh (god of wisdom), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Saraswati (goddess of learning), they explained what the ceremonies meant to them.

Machines are also blessed in a pooja ceremony as an offer of gratitude to the gods for providing tools. As they toured the factory, students saw banana fruits and leaves, symbols of prosperity,  set out as offerings before various machines. The sign of Shiva, 3 lines, was also evident on almost every tool in the factory. Even outside the factory, machinery and places of work (such as buses, cars and generators) were decorated with this sign. As we wandered around the factory we continued to ask questions - what do these offerings symbolize? What is the role of non-Hindus at the factory on these holidays? And what can we learn from what we have seen?

Golu (dolls) at a local professor's home.
Afterwards, we went to a professor's home to see her Golu, or statues of gods, decorating 7 tiers along with lights and other figurines. Her family welcomed us with dancing, singing and sweets! When they asked us to sing as well, we landed on a song we all knew - I could sing of your love forever. What a reminder of the diversity that lives together here in India.

ISP learning about Golu

1 comment:

  1. pooja for the generators was my favorite thing about this holiday. :) oh, and the garba at the gujarati samaj!