April 14, nostalgic Vishu festival
by Lakshmi Menon
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.
(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