Kerala, situated along the southwest coast of India is famous for its natural beauty & magnificent religious rituals. ‘Vishu’ is one of the most important & widely celebrated Hindu festivals in Kerala. ‘Vishu’ is considered as the first day of the Malayalam zodiac calendar when the Sun enters into Aries, which is the first zodiac sign. It falls on the day of Spring ‘equinox’ when the day & night has the equal duration in hours.
In Sanskrit, Vishu means ‘Equal.’ Hence it is celebrated on the ‘Equinox.’ ‘Vishu’ signifies the beginning of the Kerala New Year & is celebrated in style with typical ‘Malayalam’ flair. This festival is celebrated with vigor & vitality in the presence of enticing decorative lighting & lots of fireworks. Vishu is celebrated by doing several rituals that span the whole day of the festival making it a thorough celebration of the New Year arrival. All the rituals have its own significance & are performed with complete zeal & zest!
‘Vishukkani,’ ‘Vishu Sadya,’ ‘Vishu Padakkam,’ ‘Puthukodi’ or ‘Vishukodi’ & ‘Vishukkaineetam’ are the most important rituals & customs that are performed on the day of Vishu.
The word ‘Kani’ stands for ‘something that is seen first’ & Vishukkani depicts that ‘something that is seen first on the day of Vishu’! This is the most vital ritual performed on the day of Vishu.
The ‘Vishukkani’ is actually a religious arrangement of auspicious objects such as raw rice, fresh lemon, metal lamp called as ‘Nilavilakku’ betel tree leaves & Arecanut, metal mirror, coins & the most importantly- the ‘Konna’ flowers or ‘Golden Shower Tree’ flowers.
All these articles are arranged in a bell metal vessel called ‘Uruli’ in a separate room meant for ‘Pooja’ (Prayer) in front of a deity. All the arrangements are made the night before the Vishu. As per the custom; after waking up early at the dawn, it is mandatory for a person to move into the ‘Pooja’ room with eyes closed & to see the ‘Vishukanni’ first before looking at anywhere else, making Vishukkani the first scene in the New Year. The Kani is considered as the most auspicious vista that brings the positive energy, prosperity & success for the coming year.
The bright yellow flowers of ‘Indian Laburnaum’ (Cassia fistula) or the ‘Konna’ play a vital role in the decoration of Vishukkani as it symbolizes the prosperity & wealth.
- Vishu Sadhya:
‘Vishu Sadhya’ is actually a feast organized to multiply the joy of the festival. ‘Kanji,’ ‘Thoran’ & ‘Vishu Katta’ are the most important dishes that are made without fail for ‘Sadhya.’ The ‘Kanji’ is made up of rice, spices & coconut milk whereas the ‘Vishu Katta’ consists of fresh rice powder & coconut milk dish up with jaggery. ‘Veppampoorasam’ & ‘Mampazhappulissery’ are other important dishes that make the feast connoisseur!
This is a ceremony wherein adults & children indulge in bursting crackers & fireworks to light up the sky on the eve of the New Year.
This is a tradition of buying new clothes for the occasion of the New Year. Adults & children enjoy themselves cladding in new, attractive clothes, having fun-feast with their family members & relatives & bursting crackers at the time of dawn & dusk!
This is another popular practice of being a ‘good Samaritan’ wherein the elders give money or gifts to their younger ones & the host gives rewards his tenants or the servants in order to make their day happening & joyous on the auspicious day of ‘Vishu’.
Vishu is undoubtedly Kerala’s ‘gem of the festival’ as it brings the happiness, positivity & prosperity & ignites the hopes for a bright future & unstoppable progress!