Vishu marks the beginning of the Malayali New Year and is celebrated with great fervour in the state of Kerala as well as by Malayalis across the world. According to the lunar calendar of Hindus, Vishu is the first day of the month of “Medam”. As per the English Gregorian calendar, Vishu falls usually during mid-April.
The Significance of Vishu
On this day of Vishu, it’s considered auspicious to see the Vishukkani first thing of the New Year. Vishukkani also pronounced Vishukani, is a collection of several auspicious things such as grains, fruits, vegetables, flowers, lamps, coconut, mirror, gold, and holy books like Ramayanam or Bhagavadgita. These are arranged in a large circular metal vessel along with an image of Lord Krishna.
Cassia Fistula, locally known as Konnappoo is used in Vishukkani. Tender mangoes, jackfruit, and Indian yellow cucumber, among other vegetables, are also used. The abundance use of fruits and vegetables signifies the harvest festival that the people of Kerala celebrate.
Vishukkani is set the day before Vishu and is done by the women of the house. Seeing Vishukkani the first thing at the break of dawn is considered auspicious, this ritual is known as Kanikanal.
Important Aspects of Vishu
Vishu is an important festival for Malayalis across the world. During the day, greetings are exchanged, children burst firecrackers, and lighting of lamps marks the onset of celebrations.
People visit temples to worship and they apply sandal paste or chandanam on their foreheads. Special pujas are held in several famous temples such as Sabarimala, Guruvayur, and Sri Padmanabha temple, among others. Elders give money to youngsters, a tradition which is known as Vishu Kaineetam.
It’s believed that on this day, Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and hence Vishu is celebrated in commemoration of the victory. People celebrate Vishu for a good and prosperous new year.
One of the most important aspects of Vishu is Sadhya, a feast where the entire family comes together to celebrate the festival and savour delectable dishes. On this day, special dishes such as Vishu Kanji, Thoran, and Vishu Katta are considered the most important to be eaten. The mix of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavours signify different aspects of life.
Tradition of Vishu Kaineetam
Vishu symbolises social and material aspects of life. This is marked with the use and circulation of money based on the belief that wealth shared with others will grow and multiply. The tradition of elders giving money to children, youngsters, and women is known as Vishu Kaineetam. Youngsters receive blessings from elders by touching their feet signifying the foundation and harmony in the family. Family members keep aside their differences and come together to celebrate and spend quality time by sharing prosperity, love, and harmony.
In Malayalam, Padakkam means firecrackers. In Kerala, firecrackers are burst more during Vishu than during Diwali. Right after seeing Vishukkani, children begin bursting crackers signifying the importance of the new year during the festival of Vishu.
If you’d like to extend greetings to a Malayali who is celebrating Vishu, here’s what you say in Malayalam - “Vishu ashamsakal”.