According to Hindu traditions, a horse has very important religious significance; they are the symbol of loyalty, self-respect, and power. At the time of wars they not only become warrior’s lone supporters but also sometimes are the only scope and hope for survival. This day acts as a medium to show our gratitude and honor towards the noble breed of horses to which we owe so much. Shastra (arms which were used during war) are also worshipped on this day.
Significance of the Day
Navratri is one of the most auspicious times in the Hindu calendar. The festival of Navratri, lasting for nine days and nights and hence known as Navrarti, is dedicated to the worship in Hindu mythology of the goddess Durga, the consort of Shiva. Ma Durga (Mother) representing Shakti (Power) is depicted in nine popular avtars (forms) on each of the nine different days during the month of Ashwin (September/October).
The ninth day of Navratri is called Ram-Navami, the culminating day of the nine-day festival. Commemorating the bond, the interdependence and the partnership of horse and Rajput for centuries, Ashwa Poojan is really the grand finale to the Navratri festvities, invoking both, the power of Durga and Ashwa.
Significance of Ashwa Poojan
As a part of Living Heritage, the celebration of Ashwa Poojan is testimony to the traditional reverntial acknowledgement of the empathy between a Rajput and his Horse, continued since the ancient time, practiced and followed till this day.
On the ninth day of Navratri, Rajputs everywhere recognize the various aspects on which their dependence and survival necessary lies. It is not surprising that one cannot separate a Rajput from his horse and the reliance and dependence of Rajput on horse can, in no way, be undermined. It is therefore appropriate that one day in the year be especially dedicated in recognition of the usefulness of the horse and its contribution to the survival of the Rajput community.
The horses participating in the poojan belong to an internationally recognized breed known as ‘Marwari’. This name is reflective of their area of origin, which is now a part of the present state of Rajasthan. The salient characteristics of the breed are that they are extremely sure-footed on hard rocky terrain and are at equal ease in the sands of the desert. Besides these versatile features, they are good battle companions, as they possess the extraordinary ability to rejuvenate themselves by overnight rest and a simple sand bath.