Govt to HC: No nod needed for ‘shastra puja’ at home

The Bengal government informed Calcutta high court on Friday that Durga Puja organizers performing ‘shastra puja’ (weapon worship) within private premises need not seek permission from the administration. The court was hearing a petition by Joydev Talodhi, a priest of the Shree Durga Sevashram, Babupara, Phuleswar Durgabari in Howrah’s Uluberia, complaining that the administration had not responded to applications seeking permission for ‘shastra puja’ on maha ashtami and during sandhi puja. The ritual has allegedly been held at the venue for the past 326 years.

 After additional advocate general Abratosh Majumder informed the court that no permission was required for performance of the ritual within private premises, Justice Joymalya Bagchi disposed of the petition with the clarification: “Neither the petitioner nor the organizers of the said puja shall perform any part of the rituals relating to the said puja beyond the precincts of the ashram that may adversely affect the law-and-order situation in and around the said ashram in any manner whatsoever.”

“The state has submitted that within a premise no permission is required for astra puja,” said Phiroze Edulji, the advocate for Talodhi.

“This is a victory for the Hindus. We have no plan to organize processions with weapons, but worshipping weapons is an integral part of Durga puja and the court has clarified that worship of weapon at places of worship does not require permission from anyone,” said Sachindranath Singha, VHP’s in-charge for West Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim and the Andamans.