Vidya-arambam (a.k.a. Saraswathi Pooja) is part of the ten day celebrations that mark Dusherra. A day seen as auspicious to start the journey of learning. Marked by toddlers learning to write the first letters in the script of their mother tongue, with the parents holding their cute tiny hands.
And where do they write their first letters? On a plate of rice!
So the mistakes made by the toddler can be wiped clean, and the plate of rice can be ready for another attempt. Rice is so forgiving! Forgiving despite all that we have done to her.
As we grow up and formally start the journey of education, this day, we start writing on paper with ink, but still in the vernacular script. A script that I sadly never got a chance to learn, thanks to my Central School education. So here we were, my brother and I trying to copy the letters the way my parents had written before us.
A mere ritual perhaps. But the emphasis was clear. Education is paramount. For us growing up in the socialist days, a good education was the only gateway to a job, which was a constant refrain all through our middle class upbringing.
But those good old days are behind us. Today, formal education is available to almost everyone. The correlation between prosperity and good education is clearly causal.
Philosophically, though, "education is the turning of the inner eye towards light." A journey attempting to constantly understand who we are in relation to the rest of the world, and all of Nature.
And that education is yet to reach perfection despite all its formalisation.
And we at Bio Basics see that lacunae in almost all of us. In respect to our own food, most of us are what we call "food illiterate".
Most of us don't know how our good is grown (with chemicals or without), how it is processed (retaining nutrition or not), where it is sourced from (which farm or farmer, or even which district or State), and even how it is cooked (with what kind of ingredients). From farm to table, we know very little about the food we eat every single day!
This education is critical not only to understand how we relate to others in the society (farmers, traders, retailers, cooks), but also to how we connect with Nature. And most importantly, it has implications on our physical and psychological well being.
Each morsel that enters our mouth has the potential to nurture our bodies and minds, but also to hurt it in ways not fully understood by man as yet.
So this Vidya-arambam, let each of us, who know to read and write multiple languages, learn the language of Nature that nurtures us. Learn about our food. Food we eat everyday. It takes time and effort. For those who want to learn to read and write this language, we at Bio Basics are here to hold your hand.