Activities of Thunchan Memorial Trust & Research Centre
Thunchan Parambu has a four and a half acre campus. Today it holds a position of eminence in Kerala’s cultural arena. The Trust conducts many seminars and conventions on the campus that are attended by renowned scholars, musicians, artists, and dancers of India.
Over the years Thunchan Paramba developed into one of the premier cultural centers of Kerala. Conferences which include literary sessions, recitation of poetry and discussions on topics with social significance are attended by major writers from all over the country. Distinguished artists perform in the evenings.
The Vidhyarambam Festival
This is a very old ceremony that has existed in Kerala for centuries. Vidya means learning and Arambha means beginning. This festival marks the beginning of learning for young children. The Vidhyarambam ceremony is known as Ezhuthiniruthu in Malayalam. The word may be broadly translated as the process of being made to sit down to write. It is held in two places on the Campus. Traditional teachers hold it in the granite Mandapam. At the same time, five or six eminent writers conduct the ceremony in the Saraswathy Mandapam. The child is asked to open its mouth and the Guru writes the first letters with a golden ring on the child’s tongue. Then the Guru holds the index finger of the child and leads it to write a whole line on rice that is spread on a platter. The ceremony ends with the child handing over the Dakshina – respectful offering to the Guru. This is usually a small amount of money placed in a betel leaf. The Ezhuthiniruthu has no parallel in any other culture and is one secular festival in which people of all communities take part.
Even before the memorial came into existence, people used to bring children to Thunchan Paramba on Vijayadasami Day. This day which usually falls in the month of October is celebrated all over India as the day of the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
Vidyarambham Festival is perhaps the most interesting annual event of the Thunchan Campus. Little children from all over the state are brought by their parents for virtual initiation into learning. Eminent writers and teachers sit in a row in the Saraswathi Mandapam. The children are made to sit in front of the gurus. The guru writes a few auspicious syllables (the first words of the invocation to Lord Ganapathi) on the child's tongue with a golden ring. ( "Hari Shree" of "Hari Shree Ganapathye Namaha" ).
Later the child is made to write the same words with the right index finger on a bed of raw rice. It is a symbolic ritual suggesting that knowledge is wealth and food for the soul.
Nowhere else in the world can one find such a touching ceremony in which thousands of people with their children stand in worshipful awe before the concept of learning. Nearly four thousand children came to Thunchan Memorial in 2000 October for Vidyarambham.
The Thunchan Festival
Every year the activities in Thunchan Parambu reach their peak with the Thunchan Festival. The whole town of Tirur rises to the occasion. The festival is a rare combination of art, literature, and enlightenment. The iron stylus believed to have been used by the Father of Malayalam for writing on palm leaves is taken out in a grand procession led by eminent personalities of art and literature. The townspeople gather in hundreds along the way. The programmes in which eminent personalities from many parts of India representing diverse languages and regional cultures participate are attended by a wide cross-section of the population, students forming an important segment of the audience. Seminars on specific subjects are organized. The special session of poets at which eminent poets read out their creations is a great favorite. The Festival is held in the first week of February every year.
This major event includes National Literary Seminars, Poetry sessions, and Cultural programmes. Discussions on specific literary subjects as well as literary trends in various Indian languages and get-together which afford opportunities to writers to meet not only each other but also many of their readers who assemble there are part of this annual event. This is the best time to visit Thunchan Paramba.
The iron stylus with which Ezhuthachan wrote his texts on palm leaves is a revered object in Thunchan Memorial. It is taken out in a procession on ceremonial occasions. People irrespective of caste, creed, and religion join in this unique worship.