Vishu 2021 - History, Significance and important facts
Kerala New Year, which is also celebrated as the Vishu festival will be observed on April 14th 2021, Wednesday. (IMAGE: Designed by Gargi Singh, Indian Express]
Significance of Vishu festival: For Malayalis worldwide, Vishu is a festival that marks the first day of the Malayalam calendar, thereby making it the Malayalam New Year or the Kerala New Year. This year, the Kerala New Year, which is also celebrated as the Vishu festival will be observed on April 14th 2021, Wednesday.
Vishu festival importance and significance in Kerala
Wondering what is the Vishu festival significance all about? The celebration of a New Year typically embodies new hopes, aspirations and beginnings for a brighter, better and of course, a safe future, given that we are still battling the pandemic.
Vishu festival celebrations: How is Vishu celebrated in Kerala?
What makes Vishu festival celebrations so special? Just like most Indian festivals, the day is marked traditionally by seeing the Vishu Kani in many Kerala households. The ‘Vishu Kani’ is traditionally made ready the day before Vishu. Using Nature’s bounty such as yellow ‘Kanikonna’ flowers that signify prosperity and a platter of freshly offered fruits, the Vishu Kani is a simple yet joyous visual representation of Lord Krishna.
Vishu celebrations: What is the significance of Vishu Kani?
On the morning of Vishu, several rituals are a part of celebrating the festival. Typically, the lady of the house takes each family member upon awakening early in the morning to gaze at the Vishu Kani, which is usually a spectacular sight to behold.
In many homes, the women of the house also decorate Lord Krishna with their gold jewellery as a gentle reminder of a timeless tradition of counting one’s blessings with gratitude and a spirit that recognizes how everything belongs to the deity including one’s materialistic possessions.
After seeing the Vishu Kani, the families usually visit the nearby temple or any place of worship. People are usually dressed in new clothes that are bought for this occasion.
However, with the pandemic gaining momentum, a temple visit is likely to be avoided by many families during this phase that marks the second wave of the coronavirus.
On this day, people wake up early, with their first glimpse of the sacred Vishu Kani, which is typically arranged the day before itself but no one in the home is allowed to see it till the morning of Vishu. The Vishu Kani is a beautiful sight to behold as the image or a figurine of Lord Krishna is decorated with the traditional ‘Kanikonna’ golden yellow flowers, gold jewellery and other food items that represent the prosperity of the home. Typically, items such as the golden yellow cucumber, rice grains, areca nuts and betel leaves are placed alongside a new Kerala Kasavu saree, coins, mangoes, jackfruit, and the traditional ‘Aranmula mirror’.
Every home that decorates using a Vishu Kani will keep at the centre a traditional Kerala brass lamp, which is lit first and then the Vishu Kani is shown to other family members.
Family members have to look at the Vishu Kani first before they begin their day. Following this, the elders in the family give the younger ones, especially children, ‘Vishu Kaineetam’, usually coins or currency notes with small denominations as a token of the family elder’s blessings to the younger ones. This is an aspect of the festival that excites children in particular as they receive money which they can use to buy whatever they want.
Vishu Sadya Menu
A special feast called ‘sadya‘ is customarily prepared in every Malayali household. The traditional Vishu Sadya comprises rice taken with ghee-laden parippu, followed by sambar, aviyal, buttermilk, papadum, banana chips, pickle, cabbage thoran and payasam. These days, Vishu Sadya can be ordered online and it is delivered promptly at lunch time with all Vishu sadya items including the payasam of one’s choice. However, the bookings tend to begin early and last minute bookings are unlikely to be accepted.
On this day, people usually wear new clothes and then visit the temples.
This year, because of the pandemic, many restrictions are in place and not every home is celebrating the festive occasion as it used to be done earlier. But, we hope you get to enjoy the Malayalam New Year as safely as possible.