While having my tea on the terrace on Saturday morning, I watched while my neighbour carefully decorated his car with stalks of banana leaves and colourful garlands of flowers. I thought maybe he was going to be part of a wedding party that day. Later, driving through the city, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every vehicle on the road – car, motorcycle, moped, bicycle, auto-rickshaw – and even the city buses were decorated with flower garlands, banana leaves and streaks of red and yellow vermilion. All these flowers and foliage gave the roads a colourful parade-like atmosphere.
There’s always something to celebrate or commemorate in India. The past ten days were the festival of Dasara, an important Hindu holiday which is celebrated as Navratri in the north, while for Bengalis this is the feast of Durga puja. In Karnataka, Ayudha puja is performed on the 9th day of Dasara. On this day, tools and machines – including computers and cars – are blessed and worshipped by offering prayers and then carefully cleaning and decorating these objects with flowers and vermilion. Shopkeepers decorate their shops, drivers adorn their vehicles, tailors do the same to their sewing machines – and yes, office workers decorate their computers with flower garlands! This is a gesture of appreciation for the tools and machines used in daily life which often also contribute to a livelihood. Prayers are offered for continuing success in coming years. It’s also auspicious to start a new business or buy new household items on this day.