The ceremony of Vidyarambham(Vidya means "knowledge",arambham means "beginning')for the children is held on Vijayadashami(the last day of Navaratri)day.Ezhuthiniruthu is the Malayalam name for the ceremony of initiating children into writing.Every year,on the Vijayadasam Day in the Malayalam month of kanni,children are initiated into the study of alphabet,with extensive rituals and celebrations.Now here in india the beginning of the learning of letters is celebrated by all with so much gusto.It may be the great importance we give to education that has made this ceremony so sacrosanct in our society.In this context it also may be remembered that keralites still retain the age old practice of rubbing on the tongue of babies a blend of scandal paste,powered Rudraksha,Honey and Vayamp(sweet flag)for better health,sweeter voice and sharper intelligence.
The nine-day Navratri festival and the Vijayadashami day in Kerala is mainly dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi and is noted for the Vidyarambham ceremony.The ritual begins with an invocation to Lord Ganapathi,and proceeds with a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi,the goddess of letters.Another important ritual is the Ayudha Puja.
Morning of the auspicious Vijayadasami day,before Initiation into the world of alphabets,it usually begins with the writing of the mantra "Om Hari Shree Ganapathaye Namah"(ഓം ഹരി ശ്രീ ഗണപതയേ നമഃ)Hari(ഹരി) refers to the Lord,Shree(ശ്രീ),to prosperity.Initially,the mantra is written on sand or in a tray of rice grains.Then,the master would write the mantra on the child's tongue with gold.Writing on sand denotes practice.Writing on grains denotes the acquisition of knowledge,which leads to prosperity.Writing on the tongue with gold invokes the grace of the Goddess of Learning,by which one attains the wealth of true knowledge.The rationale behind this custom is the belief behind this custom is the belief that Saraswathy,the godess of wisdom,dwells on the tongue.Subsequently the initiated are made write the letters of Malayalam alphabet over dried rice kept in an Uruli(a utensil of bronze chiefly used in temple rites)and pronounce each letter while writing it.This is the traditional way of Ezhuthiniruth andthis ritual is called Vidhyarambham.For the children,this is their maiden step in the world of letters.
For the Initiation,usually the children over the age of three,who are introduced to the letters through this ceremomy.During Navarathri season,in almost all the temples,special Saraswathi Poojas are conducted from the day of Aswathi onwards.These poojas(religious rites)come to an end by the Vidhyaarambam.On this auspicious day,at various centers of worship,beloved gurus and eminents persons from different walks of life initiate the children into study of letters.This is done in the sacred presence of Vijayadasami day,the singers,dancers and the practitioners of other forms of art offer Dakshina to their gurus and get their Blessings.Vijayadasami is deemed the day of light and it was on this day that Mahadevi won victory over the forced of darkeness by defeating the demon Mahishasura.In KERALA,Ezhuthiniruthu is observed by all the people irrespective of their caste or religion.There are many temples in kerala which are famous centers of the ceremony of Ezhuthiniruthu.Panachikkada Sarasawthi temple in kottayam Thiruvullakkavu in Thrissur and the Mookambika Temple Vadakkan Paravur Temple in Ernakulam District deserves special mention.Now a days Ezhuthiniruthu is conducted in churches also.In the mosque Kodungallor Cheraman Palli,the Palli Pardhani leads the ceremony of Vidyaramabham for the Muslim children.Thus in kerala,Ezhuthiniruthu has already acquired the sataus of a secular ceremony.At Thunchanparambu,Where Thunjath Ramanujan Ezhuthacchan,the father of Malayalam language,lived Ezhuthiniruth is celebrated with many programmes.Traditional Ezhuthasans,artists,writers and cultural leaders assemble at Thunchanparambu on the day of Vijayadasami to initiate the children into the world of letters.This place is considered the most sacred place for Ezhuthiniruth.
The ceremony is also conducted by publishing houses,newspapers and other social and religious organizations.Students keep there books for puja,workers,mechanics,craftsmen,engineers and all people who make living with tools and other implements perform Saraswathi pooja and Vishwakarma pooja.On the Ayudha Puja day,the books and tools are not touched.The pooja is broken and the books and tools are taken on the Vidyarambham day.