April 14, nostalgic Vishu festival

by Lakshmi Menon
(Bangalore)

Vishu brings the nostalgic memories of my childhood days. No matter how many Vishus I celebrated later, memories of the childhood days would always remain as special memories in my heart.


Malayali Hindus celebrate their New Year on first Malayalam month which falls on April 14th, with great joy and devotion. This festival is called Vishu and marks the sowing season. Keralites make a new and auspicious beginning to their lives on this day.





Vishukkani (Image courtesy: wikipedia )


Vishu begins with Vishukkani, which was prepared by elders in the previous night. Everyone wakes up to see the Vishukkani, in the drawing room or in the pooja room. The Vishukkani is a decorated plate, filled with fruits, vegetables (jackfruit, mangoes, snake gourd, golden cucumber,plum pumkin), lovely yellow konna flowers,(cassia fistula) gold ornament, a portrait of Lord Krishna, the unique bell metal mirror (valkkannadi), (a mythology is said to have been used by Goddess Parvathi), with a white cloth tied to its handle in pleats, the traditional bronze uruli, filled with rice, astamangalyam (the set of items used for daily puja), coconut halves with wicks used as lamps, all placed in the full glow of lighted bell metal lamp.

Mother would wake us up by 4.30 a.m. by closing our eyes and take us to the Vishukkani, and would make sure that all the family members see the kani first and nothing else. As the moment drew closer, the excitement in the living room was palpable. It is believed that seeing the Vishukkani (kani kanal) would ensure prosperity and well-being in the coming year. Then we would eagerly wait to receive the Vishukaineetam, wherein the elders of the family hand over small tokens, normally in the form of one rupee coins to the youngsters. The belief behind this custom is that the children would be blessed with wealth and fortune in the future. With our collection of the day we would buy crackers and enjoy exploding them, lending color to the festival.

Wearing vishukkodi (new clothes bought for the occasion) we would get together in a traditional way and enjoy the sadhya. Mother would serve steaming hot rice on plantain leaves accompanied by kaalan (spiced curry made of cucumber and ripe mangoes), olan (white pumpkins and potatoes made in coconut milk), and erisseri (jackfruit in a thick peppery gravy). Crisp, fried jackfruit fingers and pappadams supplement the typical feast, with payasam made of rice and milk, called palpayasam, ending the meal on a sweet note.

The famous Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayur holds great importance during Vishu, where in the Vishukkani festival dedicated to Guruvayurappan, the presiding deity, is considered to be extremely propitious.

More about Vishu

Vishu in 2014

Video - Vishukkani

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Apr 13, 2013
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by: Lakshmi

Thanks for reading the article and leaving your comment. Wish you and all others who celebrate Vishu a very Happy Vishu.

Apr 12, 2013
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Thank you
by: Raghu

Thank You for your experienced information which my wife enjoyed in her childhood days.......Happy Vishu for all Keralians.......

Apr 28, 2012
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thanks for the info
by: Varsha

Wow.. I never read or heard much about Vishu .. thanks for the information..probably because i am away from India and also i don't have friends from Kerala..

Apr 15, 2012
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by: Lakshmi

Thanks for reading the article about Vishu festival. I know it is a New Year festival known with different names in some other parts of our country too. Keralites living in whichever part of the world usually try to observe this festival, which is their identity, and brings nostalgic memories to them (like your bakery friend). I'm sure others too will be observing their important festivals in the same way.

Apr 15, 2012
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Hindu Festival Vishu
by: Vaman Acharya

Thank you for providing information about April 14, nostalgic Vishu festival. It is a prominant Hindu festival. There is a bakery very near to my home. It was closed on that day. The shop is very rarely closed. Even on Sunday and holiday the shop is open. Next day, I enquired him the reason for closure of the shop on April 14. The shop belongs to Keralite. He told me the shop remains closed on April 14, Vishu festival.

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