Chief Minister Oommen Chandy among elders who led the Vidyarambham ceremony

“We come here often to worship the deity. The god here is powerful like our Hindu god,” said Vidhya Suresh holding her two-and-half-year-old Devika at the entrance of the Madre De Deus Church at Vettukad. For wide-eyed Devika, this was perhaps the most important ceremony in her life.

Once the traditional lamp was lit and the gathering was blessed with holy water, the children were guided to write ‘eso' (Jesus) or ‘deivam' (God) depending on their religious belief on a bed of grain.

Devika was among hundreds of children who, transcending the barriers of religion, caste, and economic status, were initiated into the world of letters by ‘acharyas' on Vidyarambham day in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. The ceremony was held at various temples, churches, and on the premises of cultural centres.

Vidhyarambam is a Hindu tradition of initiating toddlers into learning in connection with the Navaratri festival.

During the Navaratri season, special religious rites are conducted. On the 10th day Vidhyarambam ceremony is conducted.

‘‘We welcome all the people irrespective of their religion. The main aim is to conduct the ceremony in the presence of god here in the church,'' said Gladin Alex, vicar of the Vettukad church. Traditions from any religions that were aimed at the common good of man could be accepted and practiced, he said. More than 360 children took part in the ceremony held at the church.

Thousands of persons gathered for the Vidhyarambam ceremony in front of the idol of Veda Vyasa at Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Saraswathy Mandapam at Poojappura, and Thunchan Smarakam at Iranimuttam. The ceremonies at these places saw people from different communities and religions bringing their children for the first lessons in learning.

Chandy turns ‘guru'

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was among the elders who led the Vidyarambham ceremony at Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan. At a ceremony organised by the Desiya Balatharangam, Mr. Chandy initiated five children from as many communities. Writer Puthussery Ramachandran, singer K.P. Udayabhanu, cartoonist Yesudas, and artist Krishnan Nair were among the others who took part in the function.

More than 1,000 children took part in the function organised at the Thunchan Smarakam. Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar, writers G.N. Panicker and Vattaparambil Gopinatha Pillai, cartoonist Sukumar, artist Kattoor Narayana Pillai, singer Kallara Gopan, and dancer Lakshmi Nair participated in the function.

The ‘gurus' guided the children into the ceremony by reciting the ‘Harishri Mantra,' following which the young ones were helped to inscribe the first letter. The children were blessed by the ‘gurus' and offered ‘ashtadravyam' and ‘thaliyola.'

At the Bharatiya Vichara Kendram, former Dean of Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University R.Vasudevan Potti led the initiation ceremony reciting the ‘Bhagyadevatha Mantra' to the children. Poet P. Narayana Kurup and C.G. Rajagopal were also present. The Vidhyarambham was preceded by Deeparadhana where the children were also served ‘panchamritam' and ‘payasam.'