By Swami Harshananda
Indradhvaja literally means ‘flagpost of Indra’.
When the asuras were winning the battles against the Deva-s (Gods), the worried Deva-s approached Brahmā, the Father of universe. He took them to Viṣṇu and apprised him of the problem. Viṣṇu gave a dhvaja or a flag to Indra and advised him to fight the asura-s, keeping it in front, then Indra succeeded in routing the asura-s. Since then it became famous as ‘Indradhvaja’.
Purāṇa-s give descriptions of the Indradhvaja and the method of preparing it. Certain kind of wood is used to make the post. Kings used to prepare it and fly it in their kingdoms to please Indra and get rain. If anyone dreamt of Indradhvaja being broken down, it was considered as forebode evil for the kingdom.
Indradhvaja pujā, the ‘festival of the banner of Indra’, was an ancient festival. It was the celebration of the victory of the gods under the leadership of Indra over the demons and was celebrated in Gujarat till the 12th century CE. It was held on Aśvina śukla aṣṭamī and continued till purnimā. It's celebration believed to ensure a good harvest.
- Non-gods or demons.
- Aśvina śukla aṣṭamī is the 8th day of the bright half of the month of Aśvina September/October.
- Purnimā means full-moon day.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore