Vidyarambham also known as Ezhuthiniruthu is the occasion when young children are introduced into the world of alphabets or letters as they take their first step into the world of knowledge. Vidyarambham is derived from the words Vidya meaning knowledge and arambham meaning the beginning. It is a traditional ceremony performed on the day of Vijayadashami which is the last day of navaratri.
The initiation into the world of knowledge usually begins with the writing of the mantra “Om hari sri ganapataye namaha”. Here, Hari refers to the God and Sri refers to the Goddess. Initially the mantra is written on sand or in a tray of rice grains. Then the parent or the elder in the family or guru would write the mantra on the child’s tongue with a gold ring.
The significance behind this tradition is that writing on sand invokes the hardworking quality, writing on rice invokes the acquisition of knowledge which leads to prosperity and writing on the tongue with gold invokes the grace of Goddess Saraswati by which one attains the wealth of true knowledge.
It is a grand celebration in the southern parts of India, especially Kerala. Ezhuthiniruthu is grandly celebrated in Panachikkada Saraswati temple in Kottayam Thiruvullakkavu in Thrissur and the Mookambika Temple Vadakkan Paravur Temple in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
Also the Basara Saraswati Temple in Andhra Pradesh and the Kollur Mookambika Temple are famous for these rituals. It is considered highly fortunate if a child is able to have the Vidyarambham performed through pandits in these places.