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How to perform Aksharabhyasam

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Aksharabhyasam is a traditional religious function in which a child is given initiation for education. It implies that the child is ready to receive formal school education. The function is performed in different ways in different regions of India. In the earlier days, aksharabhyasam was performed when the child was 5 years old. But presently because of early education at Kindergarten level, parents perform this ceremony when the child is 3 years old.

'Akshara' means 'letters / alphabets' in Sanskrit. 'Abhyasam' means 'practice'. This is generally performed in a temple or at home. The near and dear ones are invited for the function. The child sits in his father's or maternal uncle's lap for 'aksharabhyasam'. The child holds a plate or slate full of rice grains spread on it. The person in whose lap the child sits, holds its hand (normally right hand) and makes him / her write the first letters which are either 'AUM' or 'Om Namah Sivaya' in regional language after the pooja is performed.

The temples where you can perform this function are Basara Saraswati Temple in Telangana, Kollur Mookambika Devi Temple in Karnataka, Vijayawada Kanakadurga Temple in Andhra Pradesh, Koothanur Saraswati Temple in Tamil Nadu, Vargal Saraswati Temple in Telangana and other Saraswati temples in India.

If you find it difficult to travel to these places, you can perform the function at any temple which near by your house. It is your dedication which is more important than taking all the pains to travel long distances and troubling the little ones for the same.

List of items for the pooja

  • Turmeric powder - 1 small pack
  • Kumkum (vermilion)- 1 small pack
  • Sandalwood powder (Chandan) - 1 small pack
  • Agarbatti - 1 small packet
  • Camphor (karpooram) - 1 small pack
  • Flowers / garland, preferably yellow or white
  • Fruits - bananas or any other fruits
  • Coconuts - 2
  • Quality rice - 1 Kg
  • Betel leaves and nuts - 11
  • Payasam / Kheer or Chakra Pongali for naivedyam
  • Traditional slate for writing, slate chalk pencil, small notebook and a small pencil
If you wish to distribute slates and slate chalk pencils or notebooks and pencils to small children, you can do so. Please note that it is not compulsory but it is up to you and your affordability.

How to perforom Aksharabhyasam at Basara Temple

For performing the function at Basara temple, you need to 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 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 your child. Do not feed too much food to your child as you might find it difficult to get out of the line in case of urgency like going to toilet.

Things to carry to the temple for the pooja

  • 1 Kg rice. You have to spread the rice on the slate while performing the pooja.
  • 1 small pack turmeric powder (pasupu), 1 small pack kumkuma. You have to apply these on the slate / book before your start performing the pooja.
  • You can carry a small piece of new cotton towel on which you need to keep the slate but it is not compulsory.
  • All 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:

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