Sunday, October 21, 2007


Today is Vijayadashami, the day celebrated by Keralites as Vidyarambham.

In the north, the entire 10-day festive season is very spectacular. But in Kerala, the Navaratri season is rather low-key restricted to pujas in temples and homes. The 9-day period comes alive during the last three days, during the time of Saraswati puja. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and learning.

Vidhyarambham (initiation into learning) is a very unique celebration in Kerala, though in other parts of India too there are similar functions, wherein books are kept for pooja and children are initiated into learning. In Kerala, however, it is almost a state-wide festival.

Though the celebrations are basically of Hindu nature, non-Hindu parents too put their children through the Vidyarambham function. Today is a day when Keralites celebrate knowledge and learning.

Vidyarambham is function during which children, around the age of three, are initiated into learning by an elderly person who adorns the role of a guru. Most families ensure that children go through this ceremony before they even join play school.

It is a short ceremony that follows Saraswati Puja. The child sits on the lap of the guru, who writes 'Hari Sri' on the child's tongue with a gold ring. The guru then helps the child to write 'Hari Sri Ganapathaye Namah' with the right index finger on a bed of rice. As the guru says these words, the child is helped to repeat it. Some follow this with the first three letters of the alphabet.

The guru is usually the parent, grandparent or a person associated with education like teachers, professors, writers or poets or any other scholarly or religious person. It's a pleasant sight as children in various moods __ playful, obedient, curious, crying __ take their first steps into the world of knowledge.

Vidyarambham is a major function at Thunchan Parambu, 32 km from Malappuram in North Kerala, the birth place of Thunchath Ezhuthachan, who is considered the Father of Malayalam language. Many publication houses -- like newspaper offices -- and religious places too conduct the function.

Click here to watch Mata Amritanandamayi Devi at Vidyarambham last year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pradeep,

    Wanted to comment on your blogs for a long time. But transfer to Delhi and a bit of travel combined with lethargy prevented it.

    I came across this blog as I do a google search for Amritanandamayi almost daily.

    So nice of you to give the link. As AMMA is away in Europe, any reference to Her while reading is a great relief.

    All the best.

    C R Vijayan