Vendors Make Brisk Sales on Marigold/Chrysanthemum Flowers, Lime, Chillies for ‘Ayudha Puja’
Mangaluru: Yes, once again the festive fervour has gripped the city as denizens thronged marketplaces, and sidewalks to purchase various items required for ‘Ayudha Puja’ (14 October) and‘ Vijayadashami’ (15 October). Streetside vendors and shop owners at major market areas in the city including Kankanady Market and Car Street market are all geared up for the festival. Footpaths in many localities and even city arterial roads have vendors selling marigolds, the piles of yellow and orange flowers setting the perfect festive mood for the season. The footpaths near Clock Tower-Opposite Town Hall, Car Street, near Nehru Maidan, and also near Bendore-Well, Kankanady were buzzing with activity. Flower vendors have come down all the way from Haveri, Arsikere, Hassan, Chikamagalur, Shivamogga, Sakleshpur, Bagalkot and North Karnataka.
Flower sellers at Car Street Flower market have been doing brisk business for the past couple of days. Smaller markets in localities across the city too were busy through the day, allowing denizens to purchase the necessary items from nearby, saving them a trip to the bigger markets. Gonde Hoovu/Marigold flowers are quintessential elements of the Dasara festivity. Traditionally, Dasara decorations display marigold flowers, considered a symbol of energy and beauty. Marigold aka Gonde Hoovu denotes ‘sacredness and affection’, which is used extensively by devotees for every festival.
People decorate entrances of their homes and shops with ‘torans’ made up of marigold flowers and ‘apta’ leaves. Also, tools of the trade, vehicles, machinery, weapons and books are worshipped on the occasion. For flower wholesalers and vendors, the business blossoms during this part of the year. Besides Dasara, Ayudha Pooja and Lakshmi Puja during Diwali too offer them a good business opportunity. People also worship the ‘Shami’ tree as according to the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas completed their one-year in exile and reclaimed their weapons hidden on a Shami tree, on Vijayadashmi i.e. Dasara. Dasara marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. It is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil, also signified by Goddess Durga’s victory over the demon ‘Mahishasur’.
As part of the Ayudha Puja festival, many vehicles will be seen on the streets adorned with flowers, some with limes and chillies. At various Car Wash facilities in the City, there have been long lines of vehicles getting ready to be cleaned before the Pooja. On Dasara, denizens worship goddess Durga and spend the day visiting temples and with family while feasting on traditional delicacies. Markets across the city have been selling ash gourd, lime and chillies in large quantities for Ayudha Puja. Ayudha Puja (the day of worshipping (weapons/vehicles/instruments) is celebrated on the last day of the nine-day Navaratri, and it symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Flower prices have doubled, even tripled ahead of the Ayudha Puja festival. Chendu Hoovu (Marigold), Sevanthi (chrysanthemum) and Sampangi (tuberose) are sold for double the price compared to the non-festive season. Meanwhile, vegetable prices have also gone up on certain kinds of vegetables. The pandemic has forced people to celebrate the festival in a simple way, said Prabhu, a flower trader at the Car Street flower market. “As a result, the quantity of flowers they purchase has come down. Those who used to purchase two to three kilograms of flowers are now buying 500 to 750 grams. Despite the measure to set up a temporary market to ensure social distancing, people are reluctant to visit public places. There is a 50% dip in the number of customers compared to the previous year.”
Flower trader Ramesh has received only 10% of the previous year’s order for garlands. “Many commercial establishments and industries here have decided not to celebrate the festival or celebrate it in a simple manner,” he said. Last year, there was a huge demand for flowers, especially sevanthi, which is abundant this year, said trader Mujeeb Rahman, near Central market. “I earn only Rs 7K a day compared to Rs 1.5 lakh last year.” The pandemic has ruined the festive mood, said Ramachandra, a resident of Kadri. “This year, we won’t be able to invite as many friends and relatives as we had last year, due to the pandemic. We have decided to cut back on expenses and will celebrate with close relatives.”
Among the popular festivals celebrated in India, Navaratri is among the longest. Like the other festivals of India, Navaratri is rich in meaning. At one level, Navaratri signifies the progress of a spiritual aspirant. During this spiritual journey, the aspirant has to pass three stages personified by Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Then, he or she enters into the realm of the infinite, wherein one realizes one’s Self. Navaratri, which literally means ‘nine nights,’ dedicates three days each to worshipping the Divine in the forms of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The tenth day, though, is the most important; it is known as Vijayadashami, the ‘tenth day of victory.’
The reason behind the worshipping of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati lie rooted in the philosophy that the attribute-less absolute can only be known through the world of the attribute – the journey is from the known to the unknown. Hence it is said that Shiva, who symbolizes pure consciousness, can only be known through Shakti, who represents divine energy. That is why people worship Shakti, also known as Devi, in Her various manifestations.
The ninth day is also the day of the Ayudha Puja. The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one’s livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one’s work as an offering to God.
It will also help one to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. (In India it is customary for one to prostrate before the tools one will use before starting one’s work each day; this is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one to fulfil one’s duties.) Children traditionally place their study books and writing implements on the altar. On this day, no work or study is done, that one might spend the day in contemplation of the Divine.