Hate Khori: Bengali Ceremony To Introduce Education
In the Bengali community, every major milestone for kids is celebrated. Hate khori (usually performed during Sarawati Puja) is the ceremony which is performed to introduce education to young children. This is considered a major milestone for kids and also known as the first writing ceremony.
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According to Hindu mythology, Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, art, music, wisdom and nature. In many parts of India, Vasant Panchami is celebrated as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. And on the same day many devotees, especially Bengalis, perform Hate Khori for their children around the age of two to three years.
Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami
Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami is a festival that is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. She is called the mother of the Vedas and the keeper of Brahma’s creative intelligence. Though Vasant Panchami is celebrated in most parts of India, this is also a popular festival in the Bengali community and celebrated in the month of Magh (January-February). On this day, devotees get ready early in the morning to offer pushpanjali to Goddess Saraswati. They adorn the deity with white clothes, jewellery and flowers.
Vasant Panchami also marks the preparation for the arrival of spring. People usually wear yellow clothes and yellow flowers or marigold is offered to the Goddess.
What is Hate Khori
The literal meaning of Hate Khori is “chalk in hand” and this ceremony is pretty popular among Bengalis. For the ceremony, people usually go to a nearby temple or Saraswati puja pandal where the pandit performs the ceremony. Sometimes it is arranged at home where the pandit comes and performs the Saraswati puja and the Hate Khori.
Saraswati puja holds special significance among Bengalis because this day is also considered an auspicious day to start anything related to learning and education. So people prefer to introduce young children to the formal education on this special day by performing Hate Khori ceremony.
New black chalkboard, chalks and books are purchased for the Hate Khori and the pandit performs the ceremony. Kids learn to write alphabets and also their name for the first time in front of Goddess Saraswati and seek the deity’s blessing for future.
Right time to perform this ceremony
Generally, this ritual is performed when the child completes two years and enters his or her third year. It is considered the right age to introduce formal education to kids. At this age, a child’s brain develops fast and they learn and grasp things quickly.
Traditional attire for Hate Khori
For this ceremony, little boys are made to wear traditional Bengali Dhoti and Kurta and the girls are made to wear saree (usually pre-stitched) - preferably yellow in colour.
How we performed this ceremony
We performed this ceremony in a temple when our daughter was two and a half years old. We bought a black chalkboard, a book and chalk for her in advance for this ceremony.
Being the day of Saraswati Puja, the temple was crowded and devotees were waiting for the pushpanjali. Also, many young kids decked up in the traditional attire were also waiting for their turn to perform hate khori along with their parents. After offering pushpanjali we joined the queue.
When my daughter’s turn came she was really excited because she just couldn’t wait to write on her new slate. First, we offered prasad to Goddess Saraswati and then she sat on pandit’s lap holding her chalk and slate in front of the Goddess’ idol. He helped her by holding her hand to write the first three alphabets of English and Bangla.
Hate Khori is a popular ritual for Bengalis and marks a child’s introduction to formal education for the first time. Parents usually witness every tiny milestone of their kids and it’s the greatest joy of their life. Every parent wishes for a bright future for their kids. And needless to say that watching your kid, entering the world of education and learning for the first time is a proud moment for many parents.