Ranchi, Oct. 7 : Members of the Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), especially those belonging to the Gorkha community, have a distinct way of worshipping during Durga Puja. Instead of the Goddess' idol, these people worship their weapons.
Though people in general worship the idols of Goddess Durga on this occasion in makeshift temples or Pandals in different States, these people in Jharkhand worship their weapons as per Nepalese culture.
These people including women assemble to worship arms that include AK 47, Insas rifles, pistols, mortar, carbine and grenades. The Puja is performed before nine trees that are also worshipped as symbols of Mother Nature following Nepalese culture.
"The prayer system of JAP campus is slightly different from Hindu rituals. Here weapons are worshipped instead of idols of goddess Durga, then air firing is done to appease Goddess Durga," said, one of the Jharkhand Sashastra Bal jawans.
Weapons placed on a particular place, on this occasion, are offered flowers and worshipped. The participating jawans later fire shots in the air before the trees as a mark of respect to Goddess Durga.
Most of Jharkhand Armed Police commandos belong to the Gorkha community, which celebrates Durga Puja with unique enthusiasm and religious fervour.
Gorkhas seek blessings from Goddess Durga that their weapons function properly when they take on criminals, Maoist rebels and other anti-social elements.
According to Gorkhas, Durga Puja started in the Jharkhand Armed Police around 1880 here. "In 1953, a commandant of Bihar Military Police (now JAP) placed the idol of goddess Durga on the ground. The commandant fell ill and an epidemic broke out in which many people fell ill and a few lost their lives. The weapons worship tradition was then again resumed in 1954 and it is continuing till now," said Ravi Kumar Khatree, joint secretary of Jharkhand Armed Police.
Today, in place of the Durga idol, a Kalash (urn) is worshipped. Animals are also sacrificed to appease the goddess on this occasion. By Girija Shankar Ojha