THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, October 24, 2012 (IANS): Thousands of tiny tots took the first step into the world of letters, through the ceremony called Vidyarambham (beginning of knowledge) when they wrote the first letters of the Malayalam alphabet on sand or rice with the help of academics, litterateurs, teachers and politicians Wednesday. Temples, institutions, clubs, media houses and even churches were used as venues for the ritual.
While the ceremony was traditionally confined to Hindu families, over the years, it has become observed across different religious groups. Tiny tots are placed in the laps of specially invited guests, who hold their hands and help them write the first letter of the Malayalam alphabet on a plate of rice; in some places, the letter is written in sand. Hindus write 'hari sree Ganapathaye namaha' in praise of Lord Ganesha. Then using a gold ring, a Malayalam word is written on the child's tongue by the adult who initiates the tiny tot.
The Saraswathy temple at Panachikkadu in Kottayam district also saw a large crowd on the occasion. This temple, also known as Dakshina (south) Mookambika Temple, is popular as a venue for this ritual as Hindus here have a special devotion to goddess Mookambika, regarded as a manifestation of Shakti, Saraswati and Mahalakshmi.