The inclusive spirit of Vidyarambham to the fore

Ryan, all two-and-half-years of his little self, sat bundled up in his father’s arms, almost glowing in his crisp white shirt in the pearly morning light on Wednesday.

He looked pleased with himself and he has all the right to be, for he had just traced the first letters of his life upon a platter of rice grains during the Vidyarambham ceremony at the Madre De Deus Church, Vettucaud.

He was among the 489 children who were brought to the church on Wednesday morning, and this was just one of the venues where the ceremony was held in the city.

This traditionally Hindu custom marks the initiation of children, between the ages of two and three, into the world of learning and education. Over the past decade, however, religious lines have been blurred and the custom is no longer confined to Hindu families as, churches have grown to become one of the busiest locations for the initiation. At the Vettucaud Church, seven priests, led by the Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, M. Susaipakiam, led the event. Those who attended hailed from different backgrounds, exemplifying the spirit of inclusivity that the church upholds, sources said.

While religious establishments served as the prime venues cultural institutions were also involved. At the Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy figured among the elders who initiated the children into the world of letters. Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi chairperson P. Gopinathan Nair was also present.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala initiated around 100 children at the programme at Jawahar Balajana Vedi. The ceremony was also held at Sai Gramam, Thonnackal, and Mata Amrithanandamayi Math.

This ritualistic process of initiation is held in connection with the Navarathri festival, on ‘Vijayadashami’ day. The tradition has not only assumed a more secular tone but is associated with inception into various new endeavours. Margi at Fort saw 23 aspiring artistes, aged just over 10, take their lessons in art forms such as Kathakali and Kutiyattam. At Thunchan Smaraka Samithi teachers started classes in music and dance.