Vishu festival is usually observed in Kerala (southern state of India) and it falls during the months of March and April (as per the Gregorian calendar). Vishu festival according to the Malayalam calendar falls on the first month of Malayalees, known as Medam.
People in Kerala consider this festival to be an auspicious one and is considered as the astrological New Year. The year for the Malayalees commences on the first day of Vishu. The rich traditions and customs of Vishu is an important part of the celebration. The date of Vishu festival is usually 14th or 15th of April, during which the other parts of India also celebrate their New Year.
Traditions of Vishu festival
According to the Hindu astrology, Vishu day is really very auspicious – a time when the sun enters into medam rasi and is considered to be a solar New Year.Looking at the Malayalam calendar, one would find that the New Year begins from chingam (Mid of August), but people do not give that much grandness to this day.
It is just considered to be a new month day. Whereas Vishu is the solar New Year when the forecastings for the next year is also available. There are Vishu foretellings for each birthdates/star during this time.
Celebrations of Vishu festival
Though this is a celebration specifically for the South Indian people, yet Malayalees living in any part of India observe this festival.People participate in fun and enjoyment during this time and burst firecrackers. They also participate in dancing and singing and other forms of merry-making.
Vishu Kani: the most important ritual of Vishu festival is to see the Vishu Kani early in the morning after getting up from sleep.The word Kani means ‘first sight’. Looking at this auspicious thing during the start of the day, it is considered that your day will be grand and prosperous. It also determines your good luck for the rest of the year.The preparations for Vishu festival begin a day before the Vishu. After all, the day should be special in every manner.
The Vishu Kani which should be viewed in the morning comprises of a picture of God, Gold ornaments, money, flowers, fruits, rice, new cloth, and Hindu lamp etc. all of these items are considered to be holy and pious.The families then celebrate the day with joyous abandon by bursting fire crackers after the vishukani.
While the men and the children engage in bursting crackers, the women start cooking a variety of delicacies for the day’s lunch.The feast or the ‘sadya’ is prepared by the women of the household and the whole family sits down to enjoy the vishu lunch together.The dishes prepared from the vegetables and fruits that are abundant in the season like jackfruits, mangoes, pumkins, a variety of gourds, and coconuts. The young people of the village go from house to house, dancing and collecting money.
They usually do this in groups dressed up as the ‘ chozhi’ with dried banana leaves tied around their waists and masks on their faces. On this day, the people give money to them willingly.
By the evening they have enough money to spend in the Vishuwela (the new year fair). The evenings are spent in these fairs where there is a lot of revelry, with music and various dance troupesThe famous temples like Guruvayur, Sabarimala and Padmanaba Shetram are filled with devotees.
Special pujas are held in these temples where the people go to worship and pray for a prosperous New Year. They also view the Vishukanis that are prepared in each of these temples.>