Ayudha puja, Saraswathi puja & Vijaya Dasami
The ninth day of Navarathri is celebrated as Ayudha puja and Saraswathi puja. Ayudha means weapon or tool and on this day every tool or instrument which serves us in daily life is honoured in a special way. Even transport vehicles are included and the auto stand in front of Ramanashram bore a festive look as all the autorickshaws had been cleaned and decorated and a puja was performed there by the drivers in the evening.
Saraswathi puja is celebrated in the houses of artists and scholars and on this day they honour their musical instruments, books of learning and other articles of study which are believed to be the abode of Saraswathi, the Goddess of wisdom. The Ramanashram book shop celebrated Saraswathi puja and the whole place was cleaned and decorated. Sandal paste and vermillon were applied everywhere and flower garlands festooned the entrance. After the puja, pufffed rice and sugar candy are distributed to one and all as prasad.
Vijaya Dasami is the tenth day after the nine nights of Navaratri and signifies the victory of the Goddess Durga over the powers of darkness. While performing the tapas of atonement, Parvathi was assailed by the evil demon Mahishasura who tried to seduce her. When She refused to fall to his wicked wiles, the demon tried to fight Her and win Her by force, right there on the slopes of Arunachala. Undaunted, the brave Parvathi took the form of Durga, the fierce Shakthi and screamed at Mahishasura, “This is a sacred place where only sages and devotees of Arunachala can reside, therefore do not incur the wrath of my Lord and be burnt by Him. It is ordained that I should fight and kill you.”
Hence She took him outside the borders of Tiruvannamalai. After a nine day battle She slayed him and returned to Tiruvannamalai truimphantly, where She continued her tapas on the slopes of the holy mountain. Thus the Navaratri festival although celebrated all over India, has the greatest significance in Tiruvannamalai.