After a two-year lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, popular venues in the State capital saw a resurgence of crowds on Wednesday as hundreds of children took their first steps into the world of learning on the occasion of 'Vidyarambham.'
Many venues in the district, including the Saraswathi Mandapam at Poojappura, noted temples and cultural centres, reported larger crowds than in 2019, when the ceremony was last held in a big way.
On Wednesday, close to 2,000 children took their first steps by writing on rice at the Saraswati Mandapam and Temple, a venue frequented by hundreds every year, the organisers said. A festival mood pervaded the mandapam grounds. The Vidyarambham ceremony, which also included initiation into the arts, had started off at 5.30 a.m. here, but new arrivals were still reporting in at 1 p.m.
''We couldn't organise the ceremony in the customary manner during the past two years because of the pandemic. But this year people had come from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well,'' Maheswaran Nair, president of the Saraswati Mandapam people's committee, said.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Shashi Tharoor, MP, joined the 'acharyas' in helping the children write the alphabet. General Education Minister V. Sivankutty, K. Muraleedharan, MP, and V. K. Prasanth, MLA, also visited the venue. Police were deployed in large numbers to control the crowd at the venue and Poojappura junction.
''It’s Kerala’s great strength that reverence for reading & writing is instilled early,'' Mr. Tharoor, who is in the midst of his campaign for the Congress presidential polls, tweeted after his visit.
Around 500 children scribbled their first letters at the Thunchan Smarakam at Iranimuttom, another popular venue for Vidyarambham in the district. ''This year, children were also initiated into the world of dance and music along with letters,'' Thunchan Smarakam secretary Sudha Harikumar said.
The Kumaran Asan National Cultural Institute at Thonnackal also saw a much bigger crowd on Wednesday than in 2019, institute secretary V. Jayaprakash said. In all, 357 children were initiated into the world of letters at the institute where the ceremony began at 7.45 a.m. and went on till 12.30 p.m.
Noted temples in Thiruvananthapuram, including the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple and the Karikkakom Sri Chamundi Temple also witnessed a heavy rush of parents and tiny tots on Wednesday. Around 1,100 youngsters were initiated into the world of letters at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple and around 700, at the Karikkakom temple, temple officials said.
During the pandemic years, some of these venues had organised the event in a subdued manner toeing the strict COVID-19 protocol requirements. But queues had been much shorter then.