Chennai Journal
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Ayudha Pooja

This is the festive season in India, with a series of holidays culminating in Diwali, the festival of lights. I will miss Diwali for the second year in a row, as the string of holidays also provides an opportunity to take R&R---and we will be going to Australia again, this time to Sydney and Cairns (Great Barrier Reef).

Today is Ayudha Pooja, the ninth day of a festival called Navarathri (which means nine in Hindi). It is a day when tools, implements, and even cars and trucks are blessed with a ritual or pooja, and throughout the city you can see them decorated with garlands and coconut leaves.

At the plant, we had a ceremony on Friday. Representative tools were placed on a table in the canteen and everyone gathered for a ceremonial lamp lighting, a safety oath, and a moment of silence. Ayudha Pooja is a Hindu holiday, and since we have Christian and Muslim employees as well it requires some finessing to make this a non-sectarian occasion. A few years ago, someone decided that we would not have any company observance given the religious overtones, but this led to small fires being lit in front of machinery throughout the plant, so the decision was hastily withdrawn. Having the ceremony center around a commitment to safety in the workplace is not only in line with the theme of the holiday, but reinforces an already strong emphasis on maintaining an accident free environment.

Nice blog, interesting viewpoint. Just wanted to point out that those are Banana leaves, not coconut leaves decorating the cars and trucks. Fyi, Ayudha = tools, Pooja = prayer and Navarathri = Nine nights where Nava = nine.
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