Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 6 (IANS) In a ceremony called 'Vidyarambham', thousands of tiny tots in Kerala were Thursday initiated into the world of learning - originally a Hindu practice that has now become popular among the state's Christians as well.
Children thronged temples, churches, clubs and other places. The ceremony saw academics, litterateurs, teachers and even politicians hold the hands of the young ones to help them write Malayalam letters on a plate of rice or on sand.
Originally perceived as a Hindu event, for the last few years it has taken place at churches, with the local priest or a guest invited by the church helping the children write.
While Hindus write 'Hari Sree Ganapathaye Namaha' in praise of Lord Ganesha, Christians write 'Sree Yesu Mishihaye', hailing Jesus Christ. Then, using a gold ring, a Malayalam word is written on the child's tongue by those who helped the child write.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy led the event here while others who turned teachers included veteran film personalities Adoor Gopalakrishnan, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Shaji N. Karun, doctors like B. Iqbal and K. Mohan Das, eminent jurists like K.T. Thomas and Cyriac Thomas and academics like Jancy James and T.R.S. Iyer.
The maximum crowds were witnessed at Thunchan Paramabu near Thrissur, the home of Malayalam litterateur Thunchathu Ezhuthachan.
'The function begins before sunrise and goes on till lunch time. Like every year, this time also the maximum crowds have turned up here,' said an official attached to the establishment.
Among the shrines which see big crowds is the Saraswathy temple, situated at Panachikkadu in Kottayam district. This temple is also known as the 'Dakshina' Mookambika Temple and every year the numbers have been going up.
The enthusiasm was palpable, considering that Kerala is one of India's most literate states.