nuggets of future
Vishu is the day for them to bloom, like the golden
of spring on Konna branches. Anywhere around the world, a Keralite blooms
to full glow on Vishu. Such is the magic of the festival.
The day begins with the Vishu kani, the auspicious sight.
The sight, that is to linger fresh in mind for the next full year. A beautiful
garlanded idol of Lord Krishna would be there in the pooja room. Diyas
would be lit and all auspicious articles would be artistically arranged
before the idol.
The kani, sighted as per traditions only after midnight,
consists of an oblation chiefly in homage to Lord Krishna. It includes
the lovely yellow laburnum ; fruits including jackfruit and juicy mangoes;
snake gourds; vellarikya (another kind of gourd, typical to this occasion);
gold ornaments; the unique bellmetal mirrors, which in 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; ashtamangalyam,
the set of items used for daily puja; starched clothes; and coconut halves
with wicks used as lamps. Yellow is the dominant hue and since the xanthic
miscellany represents prosperity, the belief is that by viewing these objects
of the kani first, it would lead to one's prosperity and well-being in
the coming year.
the little ones, this is the time of the year when the elders enrich the
former's piggy banks without much prodding. The karnavar (sort of patriarch)
of the house calls every one and gives money (usually symbolic, as coins)
and new clothes to all of them. The belief behind this custom holds that
the children would be blessed with wealth and fortune in the future. Thus
content with their pockets full of money, children purchase firecrackers
and light them up in puerile abandon, lending colour to the festival.
Vishu is the first day in the first Malayalam month of
Medam. Though it is the ninth month in the new calendar, astrologers continue
to follow the older one and thus consider the first day of Medam to be
the New Year Day. Similar festivals such as Ugadhi in Andhra Pradesh, Bihu
in Assam, and Baisakhi in the land of the five rivers, Punjab, are all
celebrated in round about the same time, sharing the same spirit.
There are slight variations in the observance of this
festival in Kerala. In Travancore, this is somewhat low-key and the kani
is the most important function of the day. People visit the temples, especially
Krishna temples, in the morning and have a darshan of the kani arranged
there. In Malabar and central Kerala, crackers are burst even days before
the Vishu day, in a run up to the event. Incidentally, this is an important
event in the Tamil calendar also. It is the Tamil New Year.
The famous Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayoor holds great
importance during Vishu, wherein the Vishukani festival dedicated to Guruvayoorappan,
the presiding deity, is considered to be extremely propitious.
Vishu is one such occasion, which breathes an air of
freshness. Hopes and aspirations are rekindled and happiness rejuvenated.
And needless to say, the celebrations marking these emotions would live
amongst us forever.