Vidyarambham or Ezhuthiniruthu is the tradtion observed on Vijaya Dashami day during the nine-day festival, Durga Navaratri Pooja which falls in the Malayalammonth of Kanni. Vidyarambham 2012 date is October 24. Vidyarambham is the main ritual in Kerala during which children between two and three or five years old are initiated into the world of knowledge (into letters).
Vidyarambham means ‘initiation of knowledge gaining. Kottayam Saraswati temple is one of the important venues where Vidyarambham is performed socially. On Vijaya Dashami, the final day of Durga Navarathri, thousands of people visit the temple and initiate learning to their kids.
‘Om Hari Sri Ganapathaye Namah is the vidyarambham mantra written on sand or on rice and the child writes the mantra again and again for five times. The Brahmin writes the mantra on childs tongue with small gold stick.
Writing on grains or on rice represents the progressive learning ability of the child. Writing on sand indicates the hard work and efficiency of the child. Writing the mantra on tongue represents the blessings of Goddess of learning, Goddess Saraswati. By the mercy and the blessings of Goddess Saraswati Devi provide us the wealth and prosperity, hence the letters or the mantras are written on tongue with gold.
During Ezhuthiniruthu, parents of the child would rub sandalwood paste, honey and Vayamp (sweet flag) for better health, good voice and sharper intelligence.
After Vidyarambham puja, slates and other stationary items are distributed by the child who has done with Vidyarambham to some other children. The distribution of the items varies from place to place. In Kerala, Vidyarambham or Ezhuthiniruthu is performed by the people irrespective of their caste and religion.
Ezhuthiniruthu is the grand celebration in Panachikkada Saraswathi temple in kottayam Thiruvullakkavu in Thrissur and the Mookambika Temple Vadakkan Paravur Temple in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
In Basara Saraswathi Temple in Andhra Pradesh is famous for the ritual of Vidyarambham. In Andhra Pradesh (in Telugu), the tradition is called as Aksharabhyasam. Hayagriva Puja is also performed in some places during Durga Navratri. As per Hinduism, Lord Hayagreeva is the God of wisdom and knowledge.