Vijaya Dashami is not only celebrated for the victory of good over evil but it also denotes a time for all the positive beginnings for one and all. One of the significant rituals at this point of time is Ezhuthiniruthu or Vidyarambham, also called Aksharabhyasam (or the the holy start of education) for toddlers where they write their first letter on rice and sand. Since Goddess Saraswati is considered to be the Goddess of wisdom, the ceremony is dedicated to her and usually conducted on the last day of Navratri or Vijayadashmi. This year, Vijayadashmi is on October 26, 2020.
While many families throng temples on Vijaya Dashami for event, like Kollur Mookambika temple (Karnataka) or Delhi Ayappa temple or Thunchan Parambu Temple (Kerala), Attukal Bhagavathy Temple (Kerala) and Thiruvullakkavu Sree Dharma Sastha Temple in Thrissur (Kerala), among others, there are many others who also conduct the proceedings at home. Owing to the pandemic, if you want to conduct the sacred proceedings at home this year, we will take you through the steps to ensure your toddler has a prosperous beginning.
What is the ritual all about?
Just like the name suggests, vidya means ‘knowledge’ and arambham means ‘start’. This means it is a ritual that marks the formal introduction of toddlers to writing and syllabary.
When is the right age for a child?
Most often, this ceremony can be performed for a child between the age of two-five years. It is conducted for all children as it is believed to be a good start.
Experts are of the opinion that if an elderly person who knows the rituals is present, it can be easily performed at home.
Here are the detailed steps.
*Like all festivities, children are made to take a shower and wear new traditional clothes.
*Usually, children sit on the lap of the guru/priest, or even on the lap of the eldest person in the house.
*The ceremony begins with writing Om Hari Sree Ganapathye Namaha, in a tray which is filled with rice. Then, the index finger of the child is held and he/she is made to write the mantra (usually in the mother tongue). This mantra is written on sand and rice. Both writings on sand and rice have their own importance.
According to Acharya Manoj Shrivastva, senior vastu consultant and astrologer, Vidyarambham holds a special significance in South India as it is celebrated as a day when a child is initiated to learning. “The ritual is similar to Ayudh Puja which is prevalent in the northern part of India. There are different rituals signifying different objectives. For example, writing on sand signifies practice; writing on rice grains symbolises the acquisition of knowledge that leads to prosperity. Lastly writing with gold on a child’s tongue invokes the grace of Goddess Saraswati, which is essential for acquiring true knowledge,” he told indianexpress.com.
*Om Hari Sree Ganapathye Namaha is then written with gold (coin or any golden accessory to signify purity) on the child’s tongue. This is said to mark the presence of Goddess Saraswati on the tongue of the child.
*The rice is then used for making kheer.
*Stationery items like slates and pencils are also distributed to other children after the ceremony.
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