It is Vidyaarambham today... Vidya means knowledge and arambham is the start. Ideally, it is done at our family temple. A lot of learned persons in the community accept Dakshina - a small fee, given in pan leaf with betel nut, facing the east. Then the child who is starting her/his learning is taken on the teacher's lap and first they write with a gold ring on the child's tongue . After that the same thing is written in raw rice in a plate or in the sand.
The mantra that is written is
Aum, Hari Sree Ganapathaye Namaha,
Later all people gathered in the temple are given prasadom, mostle payasam, panchaamritham and the nivedyam made of cocnut, jaggery, aval and malar (beaten rice, puffed rice)...
The rest of the children who already go to school would have kept their books for Saraswathy puja the evening two days earlier and would get them back. Then all would sit down facing the east and again refresh their alphabets by writing on rice or in the sand.
Being away from home, we had to do the deed ourselves... both my husband and I took turns and helped write our daughter's first letters....with prayers that she finds process of learning a joyful experience...