Vidyarambham means the beginning of education, or being initiated into the world of learning. As the auspicious day of Mahanavami approaches, devotees get ready to pray to Sarasvati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Education. On the eve of Mahanavami books and equipment associated with one’s vocation are placed before the Goddess to invoke her help in surmounting obstacles in the path of learning. The ritual of Vidyarambham is performed on the following day, Vijayadashami, which is the last day of the 9-day Navaratri festival. On the Vijayadashmi day from early morning hundreds of children between the ages of three and five are initiated into the world of education in various temples across the state.
Personalities who have made their individual impressions in various fields take the role of the teacher and guide the little ones through their first steps by “writing” with gold the auspicious mantra om hari sri on the tongues of the children–not unlike a Christian Priest’s symbolic hand movements of the cross during a blessing. The children are also made to write the mantra with their index finger in rice filled platters, marking the beginning of their journey into the world of knowledge. The Goddess Sarasvati is worshipped all over India.