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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vishu

Vishu a festival celebrated in the state of Kerala in India. It marks the beginning of the Malyalam New Year in accordance with the Malyalam calendar. The New Year begins in the month of ‘medam’ in that calendar and is also known as ‘pudiyavarsham’ to the malyalees.


The most important elements in Vishu are: ‘Vishukanni, Vishukaineetam and Vishusadya.’ Vishukanni means the first thing seen on the day of Vishu. The Vishukkani consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles viz. an idol of Lord Krishna, gold ornaments, raw rice, fresh lemon, golden cucumber, betel leaves, metal mirror, yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli in the puja room of the house. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. This is arranged the previous night by the oldest lady in the household. On Vishu the people in the house are taken to see the Vishukanni by the elders with their eyes closed because seeing the Vishukanni first on that day is the custom and it marks the beginning of a new start! Seeing this arrangement is considered auspicious at the dawn of Vishu and it also means that the rest of the year would be lucky to them.

After Vishukanni the next ritual is to wear new clothes go to the temple and pray for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. At home elders of the family present money to the children and servants in the house. This is called Vishukaineetam. Firecrackers are an important part of celebration in any festival of Kerala which symbolizes happiness and joy and since it happens to be the New Year the children set off firecrackers early in the morning as well as in the evening with great vigor and enthusiasm.

Vishu is also about feasting and food. Vishusadya is a sumptuous lunch eaten on the day of Vishu. The preparations for Vishusadya start a week before. Many food items are prepared like Sambar, Mangapachadi (Mango curry), papadam, kayavaratha (banana chips), avial and the most important preparation is Payasam( a known Malyalam sweet dish). The Sadya is generally served on the banana leaf.

In this busy generation of nuclear families Vishu is a festival that brings the entire family together making it a happy occasion especially for the elders

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