Vishu is a festival celebrated by the people of Kerala during the first day of the Malayalam month Medam. Contrary to what most people think, this is not the Malyali New Year 'coz the Malayalam calendar begins in the month of Chingam.
To me, Vishu is an incredibly beautiful festival which is made even more beautiful by the memories that I've carried with me since childhood.
The vishukkani is something that is set up in the puja room on the previous night. The colour yellow plays a very important role in the kani. Fruits and vegetables that are usually abundant in this season are used. A brass tray or an uruli is placed on a kolam in front of Krishna's picture. Ripe mangoes, kani vellari (a kind of golden orange coloured cucumber), ripe bananas, and jackfruit are placed in it. In addition to these, I added some non-traditional fruits and veggies like apple, orange and padavalanga (snake gourd) to my vishukkani.Rice and uncooked parippu (dal) are also placed in front of the deity. A small silver cup is filled with coins (increasingly being replaced with notes) and placed in the kani as well. A large mirror is placed behind the arrangement so that the entire kani is reflected in it. Gold, usually in the form of a necklace or bangles is also part of the kani. The whole arrangement is then bordered by the beautiful vishu konna flowers (yellow flowers). In the morning, a lamp is lit, casting its golden glow on this simple, yet beautiful arrangement.
The predominant memory that I have of Vishu is that of being woken up at a really early hour and being led with my eyes closed, by my mother, to see the kani. The belief is that if you wake up seeing the kani, the rest of the year will be good for you.
Vishu kaineetam is an inseparable part of Vishu. The elders in the family give money (it used to be coins, but that has now been replaced by notes) to the younger ones. It was a good way to supplement pocket money, and I used to visit lots of relatives on Vishu just to receive kaineettam. Kaineettam is given not just to kids - any person can give kaineettam to someone who is younger than them.
No Indian festival is complete without food, and no mention of a festival in Kerala is complete without the traditional sadya. Check out my sadya pics here, and here. Sambar, rasam, thoran, pachadi, olan, koottu curry, avial, papadum, payasam and manga kari are usually made for the Vishu sadya.
Now, in our family of three, it is my turn to lead my daughter to the kani in the morning. We had fun setting up the kani together at night, with her wanting to eat all the fruits right then and there.
Here's wishing all those who are reading this a very happy and prosperous Vishu.