When top bureaucrats from Kerala turned gurus

It was a "humbling experience" for the trio - President Pratibha Patil's Secretary Christie Fernandez, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

They initiated the children by helping them write the mantra "Om Hari Sri Ganapataye Namah" on a tray of rice grains at a function organised by leading Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama at the Chinmaya Mission Auditorium here.

Malayalis from across all castes and religions had brought their children, mostly aged three, to the event. The 'Vidyarambham' function started at 8 a.m. and continued for two-and-a-half hours.

At the end of the function, Rao, who is also a renowned poet, said it was a "humbling experience", to which Fernandez and Nair agreed. Both Fernandez and Nair have a background of teaching in Kerala before entering into the world of civil service.

"It was an honour for the three top bureaucrats as they had also gone through the ritual in their childhood in Kerala," said D. Vijayamohan, Malayala Manorama's Delhi bureau chief.

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