Kerala new year Vishu

festival vishu

In the month of April, Kerala gets ready to celebrate its other important festival known as Vishu, the first being Onam. Vishu marks the first day of the Malayalam calendar month of Medam (April-May). Thus it becomes the Kerala New Year day and all the more important for the Malayalees regardless of their religion or sect. Almost all parts of India celebrate similar new year hindu festivals but they call it by different names like Ugadi for Kannadigas and Teluguites.

The festival starts with the offerings to the divine called Vishukani. Usually Vishukani is offered to Lord Krishna or Guruvayoorappan.

The offerings consists of a ritual arrangement in the puja room of auspicious articles like rice,new cotton dress material, cucumber, betel leaves, metal mirror, holy scriptures and currency/coins in a bell metal vessel called uruli with a special flower which blooms in this season in Kerala called Kanikonna. This arrangement is completed by the women of the house during the previous night.

On the day of Vishu, it is a custom to wake up at dawn and go to the puja room with the eyes closed so that the first thing a person sees is the Vishukani. Early in the morning of the festival, the oldest member of the family, after having viewed the kani and finished her puja, blindfolds each member of the family and sets them in front of the display. The idea being , that all the members of the family look at the vishukani the first thing in the morning for the new year. They first look at the gods image, then the yellow light of the lamps and the kani in the yellow vessals.So the dominant color of the festival is yellow. The Malayalees believe that the viewing of this display in the festival day ensures good fortune through out the coming year.

vishuPeople wear new clothes for the occasion and the elders in the family distribute tokens of money to the children, servants and tenants. These tokens are called Vishukkaineetam and are usually in the form of coins. People carry out this custom believing that in this way, their children would be blessed with prosperity in the future. For this reason it is a much awaited and celebrated festival for the kids. Some parts of Kerala also celebrate Vishu in the style of Deepavali or Diwali with the lighting of fireworks and crackers. Since this day marks the start of a new year, Vishu is celebrated as a day of feasting, traditional Kerala cuisine is prepared and the whole family has a meal together.