Ayudha Puja is performed on Navami Tithi during Maha Navratri, which is significant only in South Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Ayudha Puja is also called as Shastra Puja and Astra Puja.
Originally the purpose of Ayudha Puja was to worship weapons, but at present, all kinds of instruments are worshipped on this day. In South India, craftsmen worship their tools and instruments on this day, which is similar to the Vishwakarma Puja, performed in other parts of India.
The present trend is to observe Ayudha Puja as Vahana Puja when people worship their vehicles like cars, scooters, motor bikes, etc. On this day all vehicles which are in use, both public and private, are cleaned and decorated with vermilion, sandal paste, garlands, mango leaves and banana sapling and worshipped. There is a specific custom by which a white pumpkin is decorated with vermilion and turmeric and smashed in front of the vehicle with a belief that it will get rid of all types of evils.
South Indian calendars mark both Saraswati Puja and Ayudha Puja. According to Dharma Shastras, it is suggested to perform Saraswati Puja during Purva Ashadha Nakshatra of Navratri.
Saraswati Puja in South India:
In South India, Saraswati Puja is performed on the last day of Navratri and Ayudha Puja is also performed on the same day. Next day of Saraswati Puja, children of age of 4 to 5 years go through Vidyarambham ceremony, a ritual that initiates the learning process.
In Northern and Western India, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped for four days during Navratri which comprises of Saraswati Avahan, Saraswati Puja, Saraswati Balidan and Saraswati Visarjan.
Significance of Saraswathi Pooja / Ayudha Pooja:
Ayudha Pooja is a day of adoration of tools. Weapons used by soldiers to the tools used by artists, mechanics, plumbers, welders, children’s instruments such as pencil and crayon, tool worship takes place that day. It is a gesture that symbolizes work as worship. One can also consider as invoking God to be part of his instruments and guide them throughout his trade. Celebration is also a form of thanksgiving to God for the well-being that is given to his businesses.
The celebration honors all three supreme goddesses of Hindu mythology- Goddess Saraswati (goddess of wisdom), goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and goddess Parvathi (goddess of power).
How To Perform Saraswathi Pooja / Ayudha Pooja at Home:
# If you are already doing Navratri Puja ie golu, then you can place the idol of Goddess Saraswati in front of your Navratri Golu display. If not, you can place the idol in the puja area.
# Draw the rangoli in front of the pooja room.
# Keep the Goddess over a wooden plank or peeta.
# Decorate the image or idol of Goddess Saraswati using flowers, garlands etc.
# A white cloth is used to cover the idol of the Goddess. If you are using an image you can skip the white cloth or place it on tray near the image. Usually my mom arranges the books & keep the sarawathi idol over it by covering the books with a dhoti.My MIL Keeps the idol on a wooden plank and arrange the books & tools in front of the GOD.So keep it as us wish.Sprinkle some flowers on the books and objects.
# Pray to Lord Ganesha first by chanting a simple prayer “ Suklam Baratharam”.
# You can light the lamp. Next do the archanai for Goddess Saraswati with flowers and show the agarbhati/ incense by chanting any shloka dedicated to Goddess like Sakalakala Valli Malai in Tamil or any saraswathi sthothram from a book.
# After doing the archanai,You can offer the prasadam or neivedyam that you have made.
# Lastly show the Aarti and finish the pooja.
# On Sarawathi puja evening,we offer sweet appam, Nei appam OR u can offer idli/dosa if u have fershly ground batter in hand.
# Some people do Saraswati Dhanam to a young girl on the day which includes dress material, betel leaves, betel nuts, bananas, bangles and cosmetics.
# The books and tools are removed on the Vijaya Dasami day after doing the pooja in the next day morning by lighting a lamp and offering some fruits.Make your kids to sit & read before the GOD.Remove the setup in the good time.Check for raahu kalam, Yamakandam.
Pooja Samagri To Perform Saraswathi Pooja / Ayudha Pooja:
* Image or idol of Goddess Saraswati
* Plank/Peeta or a wide plate for placing the idol.
* A white cloth (vastram)
* Flowers – lotus or jasmine.
* Mango leaves & other decorations
* Raw Rice
* Coconut, Betel leaves & nuts
* Banana & Locally available Fruits
* Banana leaf for keeping neivedyam
* Other pooja items like oil,ghee,camphor,incense stick and sambrani/Dhoop.
* Puffed rice with gram dal,peanuts and jaggery
* Soak raw rice for an hour, Drain the excess water. Mix grated jaggery & cardamom to this. We call it as THULLU MAAVU. we keep this for neivedyam along with other dishes.