Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chennai Holidays: Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday and Ayutha Puja

Today is a 'twofer' on the local holiday front. Mahatma Gandhi (who is kind of a big deal around here) was born on October 2, 1869 and it is also the Ayutha Puja, which falls on a different day each year (depending on the moon). I'm going to focus on Ayutha Puja, because I think most people are familiar with Gandhi. Though I will say, "Gandhi Day" is one of the biggest holidays here. It is one of the three government mandated holidays, so everyone (including most retail/food employees) gets it off.

Ayutha Puja is the 9th day of the Navratri festival. It is a celebration of tools and weapons. Tools are blessed, placed on pedestals, and worshiped. Vehicles are washed and blessed as well. I know the GSO spent some time observing blessings over various consulate equipment, and many personal drivers for consulate employees are blessing the cars they drive. We don't currently have a driver, and our all-arounder is Christian, so I think we will have to go without. It would have been an interesting event to observe, but maybe next year.

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