|Lord Vishwakarma [courtesy Sharanya Kunnath, behance.net, Dubai, UAE]|
September 17, Thursday, 2015: Today is Vishwakarma Puja - the day Hindus remember the celestial craftsman, down their tools and spend the day cleaning their tools, workshops and factories. All of industrial India shuts down on this day.
In Hindu mythology Lord Vishwakarma is considered to be divine engineer, workman and artisan rolled into one. He is credited with fashioning the material world as per directions from Brahma, the lord of creation. He is also known as 'Devashilpi' or 'The Architect of Gods'.
Lord Vishwakarma symbolises ingenuity and excellence in craftsmanship. He is depicted in human form with four hands, carrying a water-pot, a book, a noose and craftsman's tools. Water is considered a purifier and life giver in Hindu mythology, book depicts knowledge, noose is a means to capture evil and ignorance while the tool symbolises the many instruments meant for creating all manners of objects.
In ages past, he is said to have built cities for humans and weapons for the Gods.
Today, workers all over India will gather at their place of work to offer worship to Lord Vishwakarma, switch on music systems blaring Hindi movie songs, over eat and generally have a jolly good time.
The more conscientious amongst them would carefully clean, oil and adjust their tools and machines. This is the time of the year when the Monsoons usually begin their retreat back towards southern Africa and humidity levels fall - just the time for checking for rust and applying anti-rust treatment on tools for the months ahead.
My workshop is a complete mess covered with the fine dust that Yellow Cedar generates. I will take this day to sort out the clutter of off-cuts, half made jigs, metal pieces and bits of this and that.
Religious festivals in India traditionally provided a few mandatory days of rest for workers in a society where there was no concept of a weekly off, unlike the Sabbath in the Christian world. Today, of course things are very different with powerful trade unions dictating work hours and government regulations mandating weekly off-days.
Yet for many millions of Indians working in tiny workshops and homes, there generally is no rest from work. For this section of the population, today is a day of respite.
May Lord Vishwakarma shower blessings on the small workman and artisan everywhere in the world.
17 September 2015