Ayudha Puja or Astra Pooja is one of the main rituals observed during Durga Navratri. In 2016, Ayudha Puja date is October 11. Ayudha Puja is celebrated on Vijaya Dashami in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
In Kerala Ayudha Puja is performed on Mahanavami day (October 10). In some other places, Ayudha Puja is also celebrated on Durga Ashtami, 9 October 2016.
Ayudha Puja means the worship of weapons. After annihilating the demon Mahishasur, Goddess Durgas weapons were of no use. The weapons were kept aside and worshipped on Vijaya Dashami by all the Gods and Rishis. Asthra is the synonym for Ayudha, hence the puja is also called as Asthra Pooja.
On Ayudha Puja day, Hindus worship the tools or instruments that yield bread and butter for their families. Mechanics, technicians, electricians and labours who are involved in laborious and industrial work perform Ayudha Pooja. In rural areas of Kerala, Ayudha Pooja is observed with utmost dedication. Some traditional Malayali folk art forms and martial art forms are very popular in this place.
It is to be noted that Vishwakarma puja is also very similar to Ayudha Puja. In 2016, Vishwakarma pooja was on September 17.