VELLORE:Ayudha Pooja celebrations were given a fillip with the price of rice-puff (pori in Tamil) actually falling to Rs 12 per padi this year from Rs 15 per padi at the same time last year. The rice puff and pumpkin play a prominent role in Ayudha pooja celebrations.
Ramajayam, a vendor who sells locally grown items, said that his cousin who produces pori in the K V Kuppam area (a pori hub comprising around 20 units) this year purchased rice from West Bengal and Odhisha directly as the locally grown rice was scarce and the price of it was also slightly on the higher side.
“It takes about a week to produce the pori. The rice needs to be soaked in water and muddled before it is dried up. Then it would be fried in big cauldrons when it puffs,” he pointed out.
Vellore market was abuzz with sales of pori and other pooja items on the eve of Ayudha pooja during which time people cutting across religions, caste and creed perform pooja for the tools (ayudhas) used by them, be it a factory, office premises or house. Traditionally pori is offered as prasadam along with fruits and sweets at the end of the pooja.
“The purpose of the pooja is to recognize the value and significance of the tools while praying to God to help the continued use of these tools without any mishap,” noted Velayudham an octogenarian while helping his family organize the Ayudha pooja.
The pumpkin too gets pride of place during Ayudha pooja. The harvest season actually coincides with this festival and vegetables grown locally as well as those from other districts are sold along with the pori.
“Prices of vegetables have increased this year,” noted Rangan a vendor at the Vellore market, attributing the rise in prices to escalating transport costs and dwindling areas of cultivation. A small sized pumpkin is being sold for Rs 50 (half this price last year) while a reasonably big one was priced at Rs 100.
“People do not bargain as pumpkins are considered auspicious for the pooja as part of the nine-day Navarathiri festival,” he added.
Sweets and fruits also find centre-stage during the pooja with prices ranging from Rs 100 a kg to Rs 200 to Rs 400 per kg.
Sweetmeat sellers estimate they will sell around one ton of sweets during Ayudha pooja in Vellore city alone. The tender banana trees, banana leaves and other pooja items such as camphor, flowers and other fruits are also in great demand for the pooja performed once a year.