Celebrations apart, a few unique traditions were followed in the State during Dussehra. Goddess Durga was worshipped in her warrior form in various police stations in Odisha. She was worshipped in the armouries, minus the huge fanfare where cops of all ranks ceremoniously placed their weapons before the deity to seek her blessings
Shastra puja, a common practice in the Indian Army, is celebrated in the police stations here since pre-Independence days. This is the only day, policemen do not possess firearms as those are placed at the feet of Goddess only to be removed next day. However, exigencies and law and order situations sometimes force the men in uniform to lift their weapons. As per the rituals, vermilion and sandalwood paste are applied on the weapons and a puja is performed.
Amidst the beat of drums and blowing of conch, priests performed the sacred ceremony at the armouries in the reserve police campuses at Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur and many other districts. While the people in the districts were readying themselves for the return journey of Goddess Durga by making cakes and performing rituals, the police personnel were busy offering puja to their weapons.
The weapons which were worshiped include various kinds of guns, pistols and riffles. While they all were garlanded, the priest put vermilion on them and sprinkled sacred water. The police officials said, they have been following the tradition of weapon worshiping since years. The motive behind the tradition too coincides with the belief of victory of good over evil.
Reserve police inspector of Balasore K C Marandi said weapon worship on the day of Dasami was a ceremonial ritual practiced by the cops in the State. Cops are considered as protector of the human society. When people observe the victory of Lord Rama over demon king Ravana during Dassehra, the cops worship the weapons, which are used to save mankind from evil forces.
Jagatsinghpur police station inspector Satish Roy said Goddess Durga is a symbol of strength. The puja instills in us a sense of confidence and we worship it with a belief that arms would never let one down in times of exigency, he said besides adding only 'service' arms were not worhipped and not those seized from law-breakers.
District Information Bureau (DIB) DSP of Balasore D C Nanda said goddess Durga had killed demon king Mahisasura through her weapons. The weapons were integral part of the victory, he said failing recall the period when the weapon worshiping was exactly started.
Cops from all the police stations brought some of their weapons to the armoury for the special puja. Before the puja weapons were cleaned and placed properly. Amidst the chants of hymns, the priest performed the puja. Though earlier a senior police officer used to fire gun shot at a coconut hanged on a Peepal tree to start the weapon worshiping, now it is not followed anymore. The cops are only offering puja to the weapons in the honour of Goddess Durga.