Maha Navaratri is popular all over India in its various forms. But in the South Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala, it is celebrated as Ayudha Pooja. Ayudha Pooja is also known as Shastra Pooja and Astra Pooja. In Kerala, it is celebrated as Saraswati Pooja to honour the Goddess of learning.
There are many legends associated with Ayudha Pooja but the most famous one is associated with Goddess Durga. It is said that Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura in the form of Devi Chamundeshwari. The weapons used were set aside by the Goddess and was never used again. The worship of the weapons used was done of the Navami day of the Navaratri and is celebrated to this day as Ayudha Pooja.
Ayudha Pooja is cited in the Mahabharata too. When the Pandavas went in to the 'Agyaat vaas' (the last year of the exile where they were required to live in secret), they hid all their weapons in a tree. When the exile was over, they took out their weapons and worshiped them. It was done on the Ayudha Pooja day and this is often pointed out as one of the reasons for their victory in the battle of Kurukshetra.
Performing Ayudha Pooja
These days we do not have to battle with Asuras and Demons. Nor do we need Astras and Shastras. Instead, we have a different kind of battle that we fight every day to live and we have a whole different set of gadgets and weapons to help us. The importance of performing the Ayudha Pooja has not decreased in this age and time too. Even today, we need to worship the means of our livelihood so that we live happy and peaceful lives.
Please read on to learn how to perform the Ayudha Pooja:
Things To Do Before The Pooja-
- Mark out the area where you want to perform the Pooja. Choose an area where the tools and objects won't be disturbed.
- Decide the tools that you want to set aside for the Pooja. The tools chosen are the ones that are important to you and help you in your daily life. A carpenter may worship the tools used by him, a musician may worship his musical instruments and a student may worship his books and pens.
- Make sure that the tools are all cleaned properly before you set it aside for the Pooja.
Image Courtesy: Sureshbmani
Things you will need
- Sindoor or kumkum
- Areca nuts
- Betel leaves
- Puffed rice
- White pumpkin or lemons
- Sugarcane pieces
- Powdered jaggery
- Coconuts ( Small pieces and a whole one)
- Banana Leaves
- You may choose to prepare some neivedya too.
Image Courtesy: Balasubramanian G Velu
- Apply dots of sindoor and turmeric on the tools or machinery. Remember that sindoor and turmeric may cause stains. So, if you have stain-able tools or books for the Pooja, choose an area where it would not be a hindrance.
- Banana saplings can be tied to the doors of your work place, Pooja area or to the vehicles you use. This step is optional.
- Scatter some flowers on the things kept aside for Pooja.
- Place some betel leaves, areca nuts and the bananas on a banana leaf. Place fruits and the sugarcane pieces too.
- Mix the jaggery powder and puffed rice. Place this on the leaf too.
- Take the whole coconut and break it and offer it on the leaf.
- Light agarbattis and use the camphor to do Arati.
- Everyone present may seek blessings and pray for success in their endeavors.
- Pumpkins and lemons are used to ward off Drishti or evil eye.
- Share the fruits, betel leaves and neivedya with friends and family.
- The tools and other things kept for Pooja can be taken from their places and be used on the Vijaya Dashami day.