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Tuesday, 15 April, 2008

Malayali New Year - Vishu

Photo: Vishu-kanni (click for enlarged pic)
[ early morning in between the brahma muhurtam 4am-6am, vishukanni is seen. Vishukanni is seen in the light of oil lit lamps. Photo taken without flash to show how it looks. ]

alayalis all over the world celebrated Vishu - "Spring Harvest Festival or New Year Day Festival" on April 14th. It marks the start of the Malayalam astronomical calendar's first Month, MEDAM. Though Official Kerala(govt.) New Year starts with Chingam, many still consider this as the New Year Day. The festive day is also shared by Bengalis, Punjabis and Assamese.

The day begins with parents waking you up early morning.
Wait! that's not the end.
You will wake up with eyes closed and parents will guide you to the Visukanni (Vishu-kanni). Slowly-slowly you open your eyes adjusting to the lights of the oil-lamp. Placed before you will be the Lord's Idol (Bala-Gopalan - Krishna as a child), "valkannadi" (symbolizes Devi) along with the "Urli" arranged with Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers especially "Konna Poov". Coconut cut into halves with cloth "kiyyhis" dipped in oil placed inside them are lit. Malayali's favourite item - Gold also manages to find a place among them. All items symbolic of prosperity will be displayed. It symbolizes prosperous New Year.

This is followed by receiving blessing from Elders. This is the best part!
In childhood days, we used to wait for this moment with eager breath. After falling on their feet, we would get "Vishu Kai-nettam" - a small amount of money from our elders. In my father's days, he used to get a "anna" or "rupee". Then hierarchy played an important role and decided how much you will get. My father being the eldest Male son used to get a little higher than other siblings. In my childhood, I remember getting 10 rupees or moret from each of the elders. My cousins and myself would pester the elders to give more till they yield. The money accumulated would then go into buying Ice-creams!

There are pujas or prayers and hymns are sang praising the Lord. Food for Lord Ganapati - Vigneshwara is served . Its a Hindu ritual to serve food to Lord before commons. Then comes the afternoon "Sadhya" - the grandeous meal. This is one day when I get to eat Malayali delicacies on plantain leaves. The other days being my birthday and Onam. These are days when Chappatis wont be made in my house. My sadhya favourites are Avial, Olan, Thoran, Mooru-Kuttan, Ingi-tair and Papadam. (Kerala Papad). Paysam(Kheer) is served as desert at the end of the lunch.

Vishu and Onam Sadhyas meant a lot to my father and his brother-sisters during their chidhood. These sadhyas brought happiness and joy and helped them forget their poverty for a day. For a day, they could feast and have many things to eat! It was a day when they would get to have Papadam and payasam and get a change from Kanji or sometimes nothing!

Today, Kerala like many other Indian states have very less agricultural land and many few people pursue agriculture. Today, Vishu may hardly look like a Harvest or Spring festival and more like a Gold or Silk Sarees purchase festival. Also as Inflation and Food Scarcity hits the market, Vishu may have lost its traditional essence; however, for many N.R.K. (I mean Non-resident Keralites) like me, it helps me connect myself to the Malayali Culture. Its one festival I enjoy every year.

This year Maharashtra government has declared a state holiday on account of Ambedkar Jayanti. This has helped many Malayalis like me to stay at home and enjoy the festival. Thanks to the Government!

Other Photos :
(1) With Flash (unfortunately the flash has masked the Lord's face)
The "Konna puv" flower can be seen near the Lord's photo.

(2) The "Urli" (utensil's name). Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers filled Urli. (I tried to maintain symmetry while placing the fruits n vegetables in the "Urli" for Vishukanni ! The small metal item in front is called "Valkannadi". It means hand-held mirror(kannadi).

(3) This time I decided to keep some of my favourite Foreign Coins along with the usuals.
I have kept Briton's 2Shilling, US Quarter, Euro 50Cent, Belgium 5Francs and Saudi 0.1Riyal.


Check the wikipedia site for more info on how others celebrate Vishu.


sajith90 said...

Vishu is Malayalees very important Festival Celebrated all over kerala. Enjoy Vishu 2008 .

We have Lot of vishu Cards at . Please Feel Free to visit us to send free greetings .

Vishu Greetings Can be found at Section

Elda Alias The Smoking Mackerel said...

geez, look at all the stuff you're doing with your little camera...mine is just used to take readable pictures of my journals so i can pass the orals(sic )

Rajesh said...

Vishu was more important to me than Onam as a child as it came during Vacations.

sajith90 said...

Enjoy vishu 2009 with vishu kani and firecrackers

Happy vishu greetings to everybody


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