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What is Vishwakarma Puja and why is it Celebrated?

Author: Richa Yadav
Publication: Myind.net
Date: September 19, 2018
URL:      https://myind.net/Home/viewArticle/what-is-vishwakarma-puja-and-why-is-it-celebrated

Vishwakarma puja (worship) is a day of celebration for Vishwakarma, a Hindu god of architecture. Vishwakarma puja is celebrated mostly on September 17th (or the next day after Diwali) in Indian states like Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and other parts of India. Although most of the Hindu auspicious days and festivals are not celebrated on a fixed date because they are based on lunar calendar, Vishwakarma puja is calculated based on the solar calendar or transit of the sun. The puja is done on the last day of the Bengali month ‘Bhadra’ and hence the day is also called Bhadra or Kanya Sakranti.

It is the day when architects, artisans, craftsmen, weavers, mechanics, smiths, welders, industrial workers, factory workers, and engineers seek the blessings of God Vishwakarma. The shops, factories, warehouses, and industries observe a no-work day; all the use of tools, machines, even gadgets, and vehicles are put to a halt as a mark of obeisance to the god. Workers set up images and idols of Vishwakarma in factories and workshops, clean their machines, decorate their equipment or even buy new ones, and offer special worship to the deity and seek blessings as they believe their livelihood depends on the functioning and efficiency of these tools, and on the divine grace of God Vishwkarma.

What could be the connection between God Vishwakarma and the contemporary blue-collar workers who continue the tradition of seeking his blessings to bestow professional skills and talents on them? There are two threads to explore the connection- scriptural and sociological.

God Vishwakarma is said to be the Devashilpi or divine architect, being the master of several divine arts and crafts. Brahma’s son Vishwakarma is said to have descended on earth as one of the fourteen precious gifts which emerged out of the mythological churning of the sea called Samudra manthan. He has been mentioned in Rig Veda and in the epic Ramayan, Vishwakarma was the divine architect who accompanied the victorious army of Ram to Lanka. He rebuilt Lanka after it had been burnt down by Hanuman and as a symbol of their triumph. In the epic Mahabharat as the builder of palaces with divine attributes, flying chariots like Pushpakviman of Ravana, weapons like vajra for Indra, trishul and chakra for Shiva and Vishnu respectively. He is also said to be the creator of swarglok, Golden City of Lanka, Dwarka where Krishna ruled, the Maya Sabha of the Pandavas, Indraprastha and Hastinapur, the dwelling cities of Kauravas and Pandavas.

There is an interesting story from Mahabharat which traces the architectural brilliance of God Vishwakarma. It is said that Vishwakarma had created such a beautiful and mesmerizing Mayasabha for the Pandavas that it had reflections of water on the flat surfaced corridors of the palace giving it an effect of a pool, while actual pools gave an impression of a walkable pathway! Once while visiting the palace as a guest, bedazzled Duryodhan slipped and fell into a pool. Pandavas’ wife Draupadi witnessed the scene and mocked Duryodhan for his inability to figure out the ritzy effect of the palace. Duryodhan felt deeply humiliated. Hence, yet another seed for the war of Mahabharat war was sown!

These are all scriptural references of God Vishwakarma. The tradition of artisans has continued since ancient times. Hindu history and culture abound with mentions of chariots, arms, handmade tools, jewelry etc; the architectural grandeur of temples is next to none.  The form has changed, but that art is not completely lost. There is a whole community of artisans who identify themselves as direct descendants of God Vishwakarma, spread all over India, but more specifically in the eastern and northern part of the country. They believe that God Vishwakarma has actually passed on the rules related to the construction of buildings and artistry to them. The Vishwakarma caste is a composite group of five communities of artisans and craft persons which includes carpenters, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, goldsmiths and stonemasons/sculpture. They trace their descent from Vishwakarma.

In a gradual process, most of them got into other professions but their ‘vishwakarma’ skill or vidya has been a living reality, absolutely in consonance with what their forefathers had been doing. A community of people from Vishwakarma caste had been involved in temple construction, idol making (made of stone, gold, silver), minting of coins etc. All Vishwakarmas are artisans but not all artisans are Vishwakarma. Some of them are working as technicians- fixing technical apparatus as radio, electricity generators, involved in wooden toy making, working in local tool factories etc. Some of them have no access to modern education, but their uncanny ability to follow and reproduce any technical structure will surprise you. Detailed references of Vishwakarma craftsmen have been found in Tamil and in Sanskrit texts from South India.

To conclude, the purview of this article is limited and so is my knowledge about the topic, but there is much to explore about this tradition which has been thriving in the name of Vishwakarma amidst certain communities.  Hindu history has such vibrancy and depth, that it will never stop surprising you if you delve deeper into the spirit of Hindu dharma, as it was never merely an ‘ism’ but a way of life which emerged living in tandem with the gifts of nature.


1 Lerche, Jens. The Modernization of Relations of Dominance between Farmers and Artisans in Coastal Orissa.  Source: Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 1/2 (March - September 1993), pp. 85-112 Published by: Indian Sociological Society.

2 Ramaswamy, Vijaya. Vishwakarma Craftsmen in Early Medieval Peninsular India. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 47, No. 4 (2004), pp. 548-582 Published by: Brill.
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