Vishu 2010 ? Zodiac Malayalam New Year in Kerala
Vishu is the New Year of Malayalis ? it is the astronomical or zodiac New Year in Kerala and is observed on the first day of the Malayalam month of ?medam.? In 2010, the date of Vishu is April 15. Historically the festival is closely associated with the agrarian economy of Kerala ? a state is the southern part of India. The highlight of the festival is Vishukani, Vishukaineetam and Vishubhalam.
Please note that in 2010, Medam 1 is marked on April 14 but Vishu is celebrated on April 15. This is because the Surya Sankramana takes place late on April 14.
The Vishu day celebrations begin with the ?Vishukani.? ?Vishu Kani? is the first auspicious thing that people see on the day and this takes place during the Brahma Muhurta or ideally between 0400 hrs and 0600 hrs.
The ?Vishukani? is usually prepared on the night before the Vishu day. Immediately on awakening from sleep, people close their eyes and proceed towards the place where Vishukani is placed. This is known as Kani Kanal ? kani means ?that which is seen first.?
Vishukani consists of rice, kasavu mundu (traditional cloth of Kerala), gold, silver, coins, mirror (usually Aranmula Kannadi or mirror with a tail), cucumber, mango, jackfruit, coconut, banana, and Kanikonna (yellow flower known as Indian Laburnum). The Vishukani is exhibited in an ?urali? ? a traditional vessel of Kerala. It is placed in front of an idol or portrait of Lord Krishna. Traditional Kerala lamp is lit near it.
Then, the eldest member in the family gives ?Vishukaineetam? to the family members. The Vishukaineetam is usually coins but nowadays people also prefer other expensive gifts. Hindus then worship at nearby Sri Krishna temples.
Vegetarian food, consisting of traditional Kerala fare, is prepared on the day and includes the mouthwatering ?payasam.?
From an astrological point of view, Vishu is of immense significance. The day and night are of equal duration on the Vishu day (12 hours). ?Vishubhalam? or the predictions for the next year is read on the day.
The preparation for next agricultural season begins on the Vishu day. Earlier, farmers used to plough the land on this day and it was referred as ?Vishupootu.?
It must be noted that Vishu is not the first day in the regional solar calendar followed in Kerala. The Malayalam Calendar begins in Chingam (August).
Vishukani, or Vishukkani, is an assortment of auspicious things that is viewed when one opens one?s eyes on the day of Vishu festival. ?Kani? means ?that which is seen first.? And Vishukani, that which is seen first on Vishu, is an indispensable part of this Kerala festival. Vishu is the Zodiac New Year in Kerala. The list of auspicious items varies from region to region and most often depends on the availability of the item.
How to arrange Vishukani
Main attraction of Vishu is Vishukani. It is a ritual arrangement in the pooja room with konna poovu(yellow flower seen above fig.), rice, coins, fruits etc.
Ashtamangalyam, eight auspicious things, are a must for Vishu. This includes:
- A large vessel called Uruli made of panchaloham ? five metals – or normal Uruli or clean tray.
- Tamboolam – Betel leaves
- Akshatam ? a mixture of rice and turmeric
- Dharu cheppu ? Kumukumam in a small container
- Grantham ? Book usually Bhagavad Gita
- Darpanam ? Mirror usually Aranmula kanadi
- Ambaram ? Cloth ? A nice clean traditional Kerala mundu (Kodi mundu)
- Kramugam: Betel nut
The Ashtamangalyam is common in the arrangement of Vishukani in various regions.
- Next most important item on the list is the Kanikonna, a yellow color flower found throughout Kerala during the Vishu season.
Most people are ready to give a miss to most items in the long Vishukani list but not the Kanikonna. It is a must for all people.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Mango fruit along with its small branches and leaves
- Two or more Coconuts with its branch (Thenga Kula)
- At least two Cashew nuts along with small branches and leaves
- Small jackfruit (idichakka)
- Golden colored cucumber (Kani Vellari)
- And other fresh vegetables
- Nirapara (A measuring vessel filled with un-husked rice)
- Kindi (A traditional vessel with a tail used to keep water)
Those people who do not have an uruli usually use any clean tray.
The auspicious items are kept in front of an idol of Lord Krishna. The items are either placed in an uruli or sliver plate. Items that don?t fit into the tray or uruli are placed nearby. Traditional Kerala lamp ? Nila Vilakku ? is lit.
In some places the traditional Kerala mundu is made into a fan shape and is inserted in the Kindi. The mirror is also inserted in it.
The Vishukani is arranged on the previous night. Usually the eldest female member in the family sleeps in the room in which the Vishukani is prepared. She wakes up early in the morning and lights the lamp (between 4 am and 6 am). She then closes the eyes of each person in the family and guides each person to the Vishukani.
After the Vishukani, the eldest member in the family distributes the Vishukaineetam ? a coin.