For the festival of Navarathi which starts on the New Moon (or ‘no moon’ as Indians describe it) people make a ‘kolu’ in their homes: they build a series of steps which are covered in cloth, colourfully decorated and used to display idols and religious items. Some are very impressive and beautifully done. It is great fun to visit each other’s homes to appreciate each kolu and perhaps do some chanting and enjoy a social chat with some seasonal snacks.
Vijaya Dashami (‘victory day’) is the tenth day and marks the end of Navarathi. It is a very auspicious day for starting new projects and traditionally it is used to introduce small children to the world of reading and writing. Akshara Abhiyasam (literally ‘letters practice’) is a ceremony performed at the School on this day for the children who will join the LKG in the next term.
This year the ceremony was on 14 October. Parents and grandparent proudly brought their remarkably small children to take the first steps in their schooling. The children were enrolled in the school and, after the traditional pooja, each went onto the stage in the Priory Conference Centre where the priest guided the child’s had to write their name and “Om Hari Om” in rice spread on a large brass plate. The School choir rendered bhajans throughout and all adults present found the ceremony delightful even if the children were mystified by it all.