Thiruvananthapuram: On account of Vijaya Dashmi on Tuesday, thousands of toddlers across the state were initiated into the world of letters.
The largest crowd gathered at the Thunachan Paramabu near Thrissur, considered the home of the Malayalam litterateur Thunchathu Ezhuthachan. Jnanpith award winner M.T. Vasudevan Nair was the teacher here, initiating children to their first letters.
"This time the crowds started to queue up as early as 3 a.m. and we expect more than 5,000 kids," said an official at Thunachan Paramabu.
The Panachikkadu Temple, dedicated to the goddess Saraswati, was another busy venue as it is popularly known as `Dakshina (Southern) Mookambika`.
This initiation ritual has transcended boundaries of caste, creed and religion in recent times. On this day, Kerala turns truly secular as the event is organised in temples, clubs, media organisations, churches and even Muslim`s take part in it.
Vijaya Dashmi is the chosen day of the ritual as it is considered auspicious for this event -- thousands of elders (both men and women) help little toddlers write their first letters.
Toddlers along with their parents flock to the venues from early morning dressed in typical Kerala style. They wait in queue for their turn. When that comes, the child is seated on the teacher`s lap, who holds his/her hand and help them write Malayalam letters on a plate of rice.
While the Hindus write `Hari Sree Ganapathaye Namaha`, Christians write `Sree Yesu Mishihaye Namaha`.
In some places, using a gold ring, the `teacher` writes a Malayalam word on the child`s tongue.
Everything gets over in a matter of minutes and the final act is when the parents hand over a token offering to the `teacher` for his services.
Some leading media houses in the state also held this ceremony and roped in retired IAS officials and popular literary personalities as teachers.
Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan also took up the role of a `teacher` at his official residence here and initiated nine children, and wished all on the auspicious day.