Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Diwali Chopdi Puja traditions and rituals

On the all-important day of Lakshmi Puja during the festival of Diwali, besides the puja done at home and offices of the Goddess of wealth, there is an important puja performed by those in the business world. These businessmen include those who operate shops or restaurants or factories or any other type of business. Even stock brokers and chartered accountants perform this puja. This puja is done of the accounts books of the financial year and is called Chopdi Pujan or Chopda Puja. At one time it was the businessmen of the Gujarati community who did this puja on a large scale, but today businessmen of many other communities too perform this puja.

Symbolism of Chopdi Puja
Scales  (image courtesy ezineastrology)
The Zodiac sign of Libra is the 7th astrological sign and is symbolised by a pair of scales.

A pair of scales indicates balance and this symbolic nature is incorporated in the chopdi puja: it is believed that one is balancing the account books, with the opening account books on one side of the scales & the closing account books on the other side. Thus one is closing the old accounts and opening new ones, indicating the starting of something new in the business.

How Chopdi Puja is done at home
On the day of the Chopdi puja, the businessmen visit shops to buy a special kind of account book called a "chopdi". The shops which make these unique books do so in large numbers for this specific day. There are various types of such books:
  • Khate bhai (accounts-related books)
  • Rojemal books (books for cash collection)
  • Hundia books (cheque and drafts entry books)
  • OD books
  • Accounts ledgers
The accounts book is bound in red or crimson colour and is pre-ordered many days before the day of the puja. The words "Shubh Labh" is written on either side of a swastik on the first page to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha (the God of prosperity & wisdom) and Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth). 'Shubh' means goodness and 'Labh' means benefit.

Marwari cap
In order to impress the heavenly deities, it is believed that one should go barefoot to buy the account books (though this principle may not be generally followed by all).

The businessman also wears a stiff cap called a marwari topi (topi means cap).

The account books are picked up from the shop at a specific muhurat time (auspicious time), which is generally early morning between 6a.m. and 7a.m. but could even be later in the day, usually at least by 12 noon. The books are wrapped in a sacred cloth and carried with great care, much in the same manner as one would carry home an idol during Ganesh Chaturthi. The businessman will make the first notations in the book with a pen, this pen often being sold/given at the shop location by a young girl (symbolizing Goddess Lakshmi).

The account books and ledgers are taken from the shop to a temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi / Mahalaxmi. At the temple, a puja is done of all the books collectively with the recitation of traditional Vedic rituals. Marigold flowers and mango tree leaves are placed on the books during the puja and hold offerings are made to the Goddess. Thus the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi are taken for the financial year.

Account books placed together for chopdi puja (image courtesy baps.org)

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