- Holidays and Celebrations
Vishu; the Yellow Festival of Kerala
“Konna” flowers of Kerala have blossomed. These yellow flowers shine gold when sun rays are also intense. This reminds Keralites that Medam (April) month is back to celebrate Vishu in all its richness.
It marks the New Year in the Malayalam calendar (regional) called ‘Kollavarsha’. When sun transits into Meda raasi (first zodiac sign), with respect to Indian astrology, Vishu arrives. This festival is celebrated with much fanfare and zest all over Kerala. The yellow shower tree flowers, Cassia fistula presents a mind-blowing horizon during this occasion.
This is what is seen first after waking-up on the day of Vishu. It is believed that the ‘Kani’ you see on this day has great influence over the entire year. The eldest lady of a family arranges ‘Vishukani’ which is an abundant display of green vegetables, fruits, grains, gold and coins on the previous night of Vishu. Betel leaves with arecanut also form a part. A garlanded mirror is kept on a bell metal vessel called ‘Uruli’ and a traditional lamp is lit in front of these. A bunch of konnapoo is another constituent of this display as a new year wish. The ‘Kani’ is set in the prayer room as the entire panorama beside Gods looks divine and great.
God ‘Vishnu’ is most associated with this holy day. He is the ‘Kalapurusha’ or God of Time in Hindu beliefs. As Zodiac New Year starts on ‘Vishu’, devotees make oblations to god Vishnu for his blessings.
Since mangoes and jack fruits fill the trees during this season, each and every Hindu of Kerala try to include them in the ‘Kani’. On the day of Vishu, parents of the household wake-up early and try to reach “Vishukani” to get the first sight of the season. A great ‘Vishukani’ can abound life with affluence and prosperity in the new year. Then they wake-up their children, blindfold and guide them to go and see the ‘Kani’ in the prayer room. After seeing Kani, children can take the coins as part of the ritual.
This is another tradition associated with the festival Vishu. The elders of the house gift money to children and servants on this auspicious occasion. Children wait for this occasion to come as they can buy their wish list items with the money they get. ‘Kaineettam’ need not have to be in the form of money, but can also be their favorite items.
Vishu mornings are filled with the sounds of firecrackers and songs. The traditional song “Chethi mandaram thulasi pichaka malakal charthi guruvayoorappa ninne kani kanenam” is sung by the elders of the household as part of the celebrations. Wearing new dresses, people go to temples, offer prayers and do ‘Poojas’. It is believed that visiting ‘Guruvayoor temple’ or ‘Sabarimala’ in the early hours of Vishu day is the best ‘Vishukani’ one can ever get.
Vishu Sadhya is the next item. This feast consists of all the traditional cuisines in which ‘Mampazhapulissery’ and ‘thoran’ are special dishes. Including all the vegetables, Sadhya is arranged with much enthusiasm in Keralites’ homes.
Even if we stay far from our native place Kerala, we celebrate Vishu here in Mumbai with the same interest that we used to have once. We have a ‘Vishu’ market that is open one week prior to this revered day. We would arrange for all those essential items and make a wonderful vista of ‘Vishukani’.
Do you celebrate Vishu in all its richness?
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© 2012 Radhika Sreekanth