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A Malayali girl sits with a Brahmin before the vidyarambham ceremony on Navaratri
A Malayali girl sits with a Brahmin before the vidyarambham ceremony on Navaratri

Vidyarambham (Sanskrit: विद्यारम्भ, romanizedVidyārambham, lit.'commencement of studies'),[1] also rendered Akshara Abhyasam (Sanskrit: अक्षर अभ्यासम, romanizedAkṣara Abhyāsam, lit.'repetition of words'), and Mutal Eluttu (Tamil: முதல் எழுத்து, romanized: Mut̬al Eḻuttu, lit.'First word') is a Hindu initiation ceremony that is performed before a child begins their formal education. This ritual is dedicated to the goddess of learning, Saraswati.[2][3] It is popular in the South Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

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The ceremony of Vidyarambham derives its name from the Sanskrit terms Vidya meaning "knowledge", and arambham, meaning "beginning".



The ceremony is intended to introduce young children into the world of knowledge, letters, and the process of learning. After a child completes four years of age, on the occasion of Vijayadashami, the father or the instructor of the child chants and writes either the Panchaksharam or the Ashtaksharam mantra on whole wheat or grains of rice, piled on a banana leaf, placed in front of a puja. Holding the hand of the child, the father or the instructor traces the words of the mantra using the former's finger. The alphabets of the child's native language are then written on the grain. Following the completion of this ceremony, the child is admitted for their formal education at school.[4]


The Akshara Abhyasam is dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning.
The Akshara Abhyasam is dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning.

The Vijayadashami day is the tenth and final day of the Navaratri celebrations, and is considered auspicious for beginning learning in any field. The process of learning and initiation on this day is also closely related to the Ayudha Puja ritual. It is usually on Vijayadashami that the implements kept for puja are taken up again for re-use. This is also considered a day when the goddess of learning, Saraswati, and teachers (gurus) must be revered by giving gurudakshina. This usually consists of a betel leaf, areca nut, along with a small token of money and a new piece of clothing - a dhoti or sari.[5]

Regional practices

In Kerala, this ritual is usually conducted on the last day of Navaratri, i.e. on Vijayadashami day where children are formally introduced to learning of music, dance, languages and other folk arts. Vidyarambham can also be performed at home on an auspicious time (muhurta) following the rituals. It involves a ceremony of initiation into the characters of the syllabary.[6] In Odisha, the festival is known as Khadi Chuan (Odia: ଖଡ଼ିଛୁଆଁ) and is mainly celebrated on Ganesh Chaturthi and Vasant Panchami.[7] The Gnana Saraswati Temple in Basar, Telangana, is a popular temple where this ceremony is held for a large number of children. [8][9]

See also


  1. ^ (6 January 2019). "Vidyarambha, Vidyārambha, Vidya-arambha: 5 definitions". Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  2. ^ "Shopping month is here". The Hindu. 13 July 2009. Archived from the original on 17 July 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  3. ^ P. Ram Mohan (12 February 2008). "Devotees put to hardship at Basar". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  4. ^ Jagannathan, Maithily (2005). South Indian Hindu Festivals and Traditions. Abhinav Publications. p. 34. ISBN 978-81-7017-415-8.
  5. ^ "Navratri rituals: Golu, Saraswati puja, Vidyarambham... : 4". The Deccan Chronicle. 5 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Thiruvananthapuram gears up for Vidyarambham day". The Hindu. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Toddlers make a beginning with divine blessings". The Hindu. February 2009.
  8. ^ "'Aksharabhyasam' launched". The Hindu. 24 January 2007. Archived from the original on 21 January 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Pilgrims throng Basar on Vasantha Panchami". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
This page was last edited on 30 January 2023, at 02:30
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