Happy Saraswati Pooja !!!
This is how we celebrated Vijayadashami at our Ernakulam flat. As I am still recovering from a foot injury, we couldn't go to Irinjalakuda for the Vijayadashami. Though we had not arranged a 'poojaveyppu,' (worshipping of the books), I wanted to observe the 'ezhuthu,' or writing, which is the most important aspect of Vijayadashami. Usually, on Durgashtami Day evening, all the tools of work (mainly books), will be wrapped up neatly and placed before an idol of Krishna, with all the lamps lit around it. So, no reading or home work for the next day !
On Vijayadashami Day, after lighting all the lamps, a handful of sand will be spread on the floor. A lit traditional bronze lamp (Nilavilakku) and Thunchath Ezhuthachan's 'Adhyathma Ramayanam,' will be placed nearby. Father would sit in front of the sand and write 'Harisree Ganapathaye Namah' in Malayalam script, followed by a couple of sloka-s praising Saraswati and all our Guru-s. Then, the complete Malayalam alphabet, starting from 'A, aa,' followed by Devanagari (representing Sanskrit). (I started adding the English alphabet after English became my professional language). After writing, he would pick up the Ramayanam and read a couple of verses, marking the ending of worshipping the goddess of Knowledge.
Vijayadashami had always been the festival of worshipping Knowledge for Malayalees. I don't know if Saraswati is worshipped with this much fervour in any other Indian states. Vijayadashami is also the day for everyone to start the learning of music and dance. Children are also initiated into the world of letters on this day. These days, the Vidyarambham is a big event, with functions being arranged in major temples, as well as in secular institutions. Even Christian churches arrange Vidyarambham these days.
Today, at our flat, we made a simple ceremony with a plate of raw rice for the auspicious writing. Though clean sand is used, raw rice is considered the most auspicious, especially for the children's 'Vidyarambham.' We had no sand, hence the rice. Then, Rajan lit the Nilavilakku, arranged some fruits, including a piece of sugarcane, oranges, an apple and a sappotta (which is not part of the traditional arrangement, but just for the sake of appearance !), put a small metal Nataraja (which we had bought from the Gujarat Emporium), and I placed an old copy of Adhyathma Ramayanam nearby. Rajan's tablas can be seen in the background. And on the rice is written 'Harisree' in Malayalam.
A refreshing way to pay respects to the Vidya we practice !