Though the nine days of Navratri are celebrated throughout India, it is the last three days of Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadashami that are celebrated in Kerala. Apart from the festivals like Onam and Vishu, Mahanavami is also one of the most auspicious days observed in Kerala.
On the day of Durgashtami, or Ayudha Pooja (also known as Pooja Vaipu in Malayalam), devotees worship the objects related to their work like books, pen, musical instruments, etc. Special pujas are performed in temples during Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadasami. . Though it is related to mythology, children enjoy it the most as schools remain closed for three days and till the break of Vijayadasami, the kids are not allowed to read and write during this period.
The next day is Mahanavami, the auspicious day when Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, is worshipped. The temples carry pujas and other rituals for the Goddess.
The temples that are popular for Mahanavami celebrations in Kerala are the Chottanikkara Temple in Ernakulam, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Panachikkadu Saraswathy Temple in Kottayam, Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple in Thrissur among the rest.
The Mahanavami falls on the ninth day of the shukla paksha according to the Hindu calendar, which ideally falls in September and October in the solar calendar. The mythological relevance is that these nine days are believed to be the days when Goddess Durga fought with Mahishasura who was the King of demons. It was on the ninth day (on Mahanavami) that marks the last day of the battle after which she declares her victory over the demon.
After Mahanavami, the Vijayadasami is also celebrated all over Kerala. The day marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil spirit of Mahishasura. This day is considered auspicious to start anything new. This is also the day Keralites celebrate Vidyarambham, the ceremony of introducing young children to the world of letters. This is performed in temples where the child is guided by a Guru who makes him/her write the first letters on rice or sand on a platter. This is the day when all the vocational tools kept for worshipping are taken and used afresh as it is believed that starting any kind of learning on this day leads to success.
The temples famous for Vidyarambham include the Mookambika Temple in Paravur, Thiruvullakkavu Temple in Thrissur and the Panachikkadu Saraswathy Temple in Kottayam.