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How To Perform Aksharabhyasam At Home And Basar temple

Aksharabhyasam Meaning

The word 'Akshara' means letters (alphabets) in Sanskrit and 'abhyasam' means practice. Aksharabhyasam also known as 'Vidyaarambham', is a traditional HIndu religious function of Hindus which literally means starting of education. It is a function in which the child is given initiation for writing / education and gets ready for formal education in a school. The function is performed in different ways in different regions of India.

When to perform aksharabhyasam

In the olden days, aksharabhyasam was performed when the child was 5 years old. These days due to early education at Kindergarten level, parents perform this ceremony when the child is in his 3rd year i.e. after the child completes 2 years. Normally there is a belief that aksharabhyasam should not be performed after the child completes 3 years and is in its 4th year.

Where to perform aksharabhyasam

The function can be performed either in a temple or at home. In the olden days it was performed in homes but as there is a change in the lifestyle, people started performing the function in temples.

Procedure to perform aksharabhyasam at home

  • Engage family purohit, fix an auspicious day / time for the function and get the list of puja items him.
  • Invite close relatives (not compulsory) and start preparations for the function in advance.
  • On the function day, after making all the necessary arrangements before the purohit comes and dress up in traditional attire.
  • Dress up the child also in a traditional way (of course depending on the comfort of the child). If the child becomes fussy, let him / her wear the dress that he / she wants to wear.
  • After the purohit arrives, do deeparadhana (light the lamp / deepam) in the puja mandir and sit in a comfortable way.
  • When the purohit starts chanting mantras, keep performing the puja as instructed by him.
  • The child sits in his father's or maternal uncle's lap for 'aksharabhyasam' and then the child is made to hold a plate full of rice grains spread on it or on a slate.
  • After the puja, the person in whose lap the child sits, holds his / her hand (usually right hand) and makes him / her write the first letters which are either 'AUM' or 'Om Namah Sivaya' in regional language.
  • At the end of the puja, offer yellow or off-white or white colored naivedyam like kheer / payasam or sooji halwa.

    List of items for the pooja

    • 1 small packet each of turmeric powder (pasupu), kumkuma, chandanam, agarbatti and camphor (karpooram)
    • Loose flowers or garland preferably yellow or white
    • Fruits like bananas or any other seasonal fruit and 2 coconuts
    • 1 Kg good quality rice as this will be offered to purohit or any other such person. It should be useful to them to cook and eat.
    • 11 Betel leaves and nuts
    • Payasam / Kheer or Chakra Pongali for naivedyam
    • Traditional slate for writing, slate chalk pencil for the child to write and small notebook and a small pencil for donating to a child.
    If you wish, you can distribute slates and slate chalk / pencils or notebooks and pencils to the children. It is not compulsory but purely a personal choice which depends on one's affordability.

    Normally aksharabhyasam is performed in Hindu temples. However, it is the determination and dedication to perform the function which is more important than taking pains to travel long distances and troubling the little ones.

    Important temples for performing aksharabhyasam

    • Basara Saraswati Temple, Telangana
    • Kollur Mookambika Devi Temple in Karnataka
    • Vijayawada Kanakadurga Temple, Andhra Pradesh
    • Koothanur Saraswati Temple, Tamil Nadu
    • Vargal Saraswati Temple, Telangana
    • Other Saraswati temples in India

    How to perform Aksharabhyasam at Basara Temple

    For performing the function at Basara temple, take care of the following things:
    • For performing the function in the main temple premises in front of the main deity of Goddess Saraswati, buy Aksharabhyasam (special pooja) ticket for Rs.1000/- (subject to change). The temple opens daily at 4.00 a.m and tickets are sold from 4.00 a.m to 4.30 a.m.
    • Aksharabhyasam timings - 7.30 a.m to 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m to 6.30 p.m. Temple remains closed from 12 noon to 2.00 p.m.
    • The function is performed in mass and hundreds of families are crowded / seated inside the main temple.
    • An important point to note. This is performed in mass and hundreds of families are seated inside the main temple. The temple priest gives instructions in the mike before starting the pooja. Concentrate and follow the instructions carefully so that you can easily and successfully complete the pooja.
    • It will be very congested inside and a bit noisy too. You would find it difficult to sit properly due to crowd. Adjust yourself and try to sit at ease. Keep all the required items in your lap. And let your child sit in his / her father's or in the lap of other family member who accompanies you. By doing so, you may feel convenient while performing the function.
    • Mantras will be chanted in the mike by the priest. Repeat the same and do as instructed in the mike. After the pooja is over, go in lines, give the slate along with the rice spread on it to the priest who is seated on a platform. He will make your child write 'OM' on the slate. You can then continue in the line, have darshan of Goddess Saraswati and move out.
    • You can even perform the function at any place within the temple premises but outside the sanctum sanctorum. Ticket for ordinary Aksharabhyasam pooja is Rs.100/-.
    Performing Askharabhyasam at Basara temple on special festival days like Basant Panchami is very effective. But the temple is heavily crowded on these days and you need to stand for hours in long lines for buying tickets and then for entering into the main premises for performing pooja. At times you become impatient standing / waiting for long hours in lines. You get irritated when small kids become cranky / fussy and you keep shouting at them.

    Try to keep yourself engaged in some activity so as to kill the boredom. Keep your child / children engaged to avoid their fussiness. Get a couple of their favorite toys / books / play things and keep them engaged.

    Carry some dry eatables like biscuits, cookies, chips etc to feed your child and also keep some healthy drinks, juices and water bottle particularly for the child. Do not feed too much food to as you might find it difficult to get out of the line in case of urgency like the child gets urgent toilet or so.

    Things to carry to the temple for the pooja

    • 1 Kg rice for spreading on the slate while performing the pooja when the priest instructs to do so.
    • 1 small packet turmeric powder (pasupu) and kumkuma to apply on the slate / book before starting the pooja.
    • A small piece of new cotton towel on which the new slate has to be kept (however not compulsory).
    • Other materials like notebook, pencil, slate, slate chalk, flowers, coconut, garland, flowers and all other pooja materials are available in the shops in the temple premises.
    Auspicious Days for performing Aksharabhyasam

    Aksharabhyasam can be performed on any auspicious day / time. However there are some best days to perform it. These are:
    • Basant Pachami / Siri Panchami
    • Guru Purnima
    • Vijaya Dasami or Saraswati Pooja day during Dussehra Navaratri.
    • Sravana Pournami day i.e on Raksha Bandhan day
    • Ugadi / Gudi Pudwa day.

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