The Durga Puja celebration at the Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP) ground in Ranchi is unique in many ways.
Here the idol of Goddess Durga is not worshipped, but arms and weapons. The idol is given a salute of guns, animals are sacrificed and women worship for the safety of their husbands and sons.
Weapons like AK-47, INSAS rifles, pistols, mortar, carbine and grenades are placed on the stage, decorated with flowers and worshipped.
JAP is one of most efficient force of Jharkhand police force. JAP commandos are involved in anti Maoist operations and deployed for the security of many VVIPs. Majority of JAP commandos belong to the Gorkha community, which celebrates Durga Puja with enthusiasm.
"We worship Goddess Durga for safety of our men. Majority of Gorkha community is employed in JAP and they have to fight with Maoists, criminals and face threats while providing security to people. The safety of our men is our priority," Aneeta Metha, a Gorkha woman, told IANS.
Echoing her view, Sharmila Thapa said: "Many Gorkha men have been killed in landmine blasts and gun fights with Maoists. Goddess Durga keeps our men safe in the difficult situation."
Animals are also sacrificed on the ninth day of the puja to appease the goddess, and Gorkhas seek blessings from Durga that their weapons function properly.
"Our weapons are everything in our fight with Maoists and criminals. We can fight only when our weapons functions properly in the field," Rajesh Thapa, a JAP jawan, told IANS.
According to local people, idol worship is considered a bad omen among the community.
According to Gorkhas, weapon worship during Durga Puja started in 1880 at the Bihar Military Police (BMP) ground during undivided Bihar. After creation of Jharkhand, BMP was renamed as JAP. The weapon worshipping trend continued.
According to locals, a commandant of BMP installed an idol of Goddess Durga in 1953. However, the commandant and Gorkha people faced numerous problems after that. Many Gorkha people, including the commandant fell ill, and a few died in an epidemic. After the 1953 incident, they resumed worshipping weapons which continues till today.