Durga Puja is celebrated by the Jharkhand Armed Police in Ranchi not with the traditional incense and flowers but with a gun salute. And the deity is not a 10-armed idol of the goddess but a 'kalash' or a sacred urn!
What's more... apart from the goddess, sophisticated weapons like Self Loading Rifles, pistols, carbine guns and grenades are also worshipped at the Jharkhand Armed Police-1 (JAP-1) grounds in Ranchi.
As a practice, prayers are not offered to any idol and this is the 128th year that the personnel are worshipping a kalash and weapons during the festive season.
"The weapons are put beside the kalash and we worship the weapons as they are the strength of our battalion. Even goddess Durga used weapons to kill evil forces," said Raj Kumar, joint secretary of the Puja committee at JAP-1.
Also, traditional musical instruments like the Dhak and Kanshore are not played but the JAP band belts out tunes from their bagpipes and worships the kalash, a symbol of goddess Durga. The kalash is immersed in a river on Dussehra.
The kalash puja started in 1880. In 1943, the Gorkhas of the battalion had worshipped an idol of Durga but it proved unlucky for them. So the batallion went back to the kalash puja.
There are around 3,000 Gorkhas based in Ranchi and most of them are employed with the JAP.