Shastra Puja or Ayudha Puja is an annual Hindu ritual held on Navami-Dashami of the Navaratra festival. Here weapons are worshipped on Vijaydashmi after they are blessed by the goddess.
This ancient religious practice though, is regularly depicted as a political one by a section of the media. We had recently reported as to how a journalist in a possible case of Hinduphobia had called this Shastra Puja as a case of Hindu groups following Nathuram Godse’s lessons.
Even West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has become notorious for allegedly discriminating against Hindu festivals, too decided to flex her muscles against this Shastra Puja.
On September 4th Mamata had reportedly directed the police administration to “thwart” any attempt to celebrate Shastra Puja or any weapon worship on Dashami.
This led to Hindu groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) defiantly state that they intended to carry out the Puja at at-least 300 locations across the state and would move to court for obtaining the required permission.
As a result, Joydev Talodhi a priest associated with the VHP filed a petition with the Calcutta Hugh Court wherein he complained, that the Mamata government had not responded to the applications seeking permission for the Shastra Puja. As a result of the petition, the government submitted to the High Court that no permission was required to hold the puja within private premises.
This a result was hailed as a victory by the Hindu groups even though the court ruling did not give permission to street processions, the likes of which were witnessed during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.
The lack of permission for street procession was objected to by BJP state president Dilip Ghosh who reportedly wondered as to why such restrictions were imposed by the administration against the traditional Hindu festivals when Muslims openly carried arms during Muharram processions.
Now after Vijayadashmi, it has been reported that Shastra Puja was indeed performed in hundreds of locations across the state. Most of the pujas were indeed held indoors in compliance with the Calcutta High Court order.
But according to the report, in Burdwan, Birbhum and West Midnapore districts processions were carried out by various akharas. The report also claimed that the Bajrangi Dal even took the puja to various localities to raise awareness among the Hindus.
Such a widespread observance of the ritual by the Hindu groups might be called an act of defiance as the pujas were carried out even though the Mamata government had openly expressed its antipathy against the practice.
It was recently seen how after the Calcutta High Court had revoked Mamata government’s order to ban Durga idol immersions on Muharram, the government had in-turn made it mandatory for puja administrators to take police permission if they indeed wanted to immerse idols on that day. Plus it was reported that TMC legislators would be “persuading” the pujas organisers to not carry out immersion on that day.
As reported by us, hardly any of the puja organisers sought the required permission, in what was seen as unwillingness to go against the wishes of the Mamata government.