Ezhuthiniruthu is a ritual for toddlers followed mainly by Hindus, especially by Keralites. Toddlers are officially introduced to the world of knowledge by this procedure called Ezhuthiniruthu or Aksharabhyasam at an age when they start talking complete words, usually at the age of three. Children are supposed to be reading and writing only after this initiation, though the New Gen kids start doing it at much early stages. This is also called as Vidyarambham where “Vidya” means “Knowledge” and “Arambham” means “Start”. After the ezhuthiniruthu ceremony, children are introduced to the alphabets and vocabulary.
It is a beautiful ceremony worth experiencing in ones life which happens only once in the life time. Ezhuthiniruthu is mainly done at a temple, initiated by a Guru or an elderly person having immense knowledge. The most auspicious day for this is the Vijayadashami day – the tenth day of the Navaratri Festival, though it is performed on other important days as well, depending upon the convenience of the parents. Usually Ayyappa Temples and Devi Temples are chosen for conducting the Ezhuthiniruthu. Saraswathi is the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom. Lord Ayyappa is also known equally for wisdom. It is believed that Ayyappa while he was learning with his Guru, made the Guru’s son who was a dumb by birth talk with his powers.
On the day of this ceremony, a child is showered with bath, adorned with traditional dress and taken to the nearby temple where Ezhuthiniruthu is performed. The child is made to sit on the lap of the parent/elder person in the family, Guru or the initiator chants some invocation mantras praying the God/Goddess and the mantra “Om Hari Sree Ganapathaye Nama:” is written on the tongue of the child with a golden ring. It may not be possible always to write the whole of it as children at this age usually are afraid of a third-person and he/she is afraid of what is going on with him where the Guru or the Initiator pulls his/her tongue. After this, they are made to write the same mantra with their ring finger (or sometimes the index finger) in trays filled with rice and fine sand. Writing on rice is considered for knowledge while writing on sand is for practice. Writing on the tongue signifies the presence of Saraswathi on the tongue of a person. If the child is in good mood and cooperates well, the Guru may even make the child to write the alphabets but this is very rare. After this initiation, the child is qualified to receive formal education and start practicing reading and writing.
It is also possible to hold this ceremony at home if a nearby temple is not available. Usually temples will be crowded on the Vijayadashami day. Kollur Mookambika Temple (in Karnataka), Thiruvullakkavu (in Thrissur – Kerala) Ayyappa Temple, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple (in Thiruvananthapuram – Kerala) are famous for the Ezhuthiniruthu Temple. The ceremony starts as early as 6am on the Vijayadashami day and extends up to 10-11 in the morning depending upon the crowd.
The Invocation Mantra in praise of Goddess Saraswathi is chanted before starting the ceremony.
“Saraswathi Namastubhyam Varade Kaama Roopini | Vidyarambham Karishyaami Siddhir Bhavatu Me Sadaa ||”
Meaning – (I/We) bow down to the Goddess Saraswathi who gives us the boons and fulfills all the wishes, always bestow upon me the virtuousness of right knowledge and understanding when I start my studies.
Later every year the child (and elders) chants and writes “Hari Sree Ganapathaye Nama:” and the alphabets on the Vijayadashami day which is considered the Vidyarambham Day.
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