As a Malayalee, I have two festivals which we have taken the oath never to miss in life, which is Onam and Vishu. It’s time of the year, when ladies go look for the yellow flower ‘Konna Poo’ (Amaltas) used to decorate Vishukkani (the decoration kept near Lord Krishna) which means “The first thing seen on the day after waking up”
Vishu is celebrated in a grand way across Kerala. This one has nothing to do with religion, as the first day for Medam is the unchangeable day of Vishu. As Vishu marked the first day of the Malayalam Zodiac, it is considered an appropriate time to offer oblations to gods.
I remember how I used to help my grandmother to decorate Vishnu Kani as a child without a clue about the items required, and we put ourselves a grand Vishukkani. It was indeed quite fulfilling to have arranged everything from scratch to make it the final masterpiece. The best part is to gather everything without missing a single thing; rice, fruits, vegetables, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, Bhagavat Geeta or Ramayan along with coins. We believe that the fortunes for the year depend upon the nature of the object one sees first in the morning of Vishu day.
The elder woman, my grandmother here, is the one who wakes up the family covering their eyes, she will then lead others to the puja room, where she will allow others to take part in the auspicious sight of seeing Vishu Kani.
Vishu is the time of year, most of us get new clothes now this part has lost significance over the year, but it used to make us excited as kids (Puthukodi). We used to wear new clothes and go to our elders to accept money (Vishukkaineetam) it’s a tradition for elders to give money.
Sadya is a major part of all Kerala festivals. But for Vishu, Vishu Kanji and Thoran are the best part. The Kanji is made of rice, coconut milk and spices. The lunch is served in some places served with Vishu Sadya which consists of Veppampoorasam, Mampazhappulissery, Pazham (banana) pappadam, Unniyappam, Sarkara varatti, payar mezhukkupuratti, Venda Upperi, Carrot Beans Thoran, Idichakka Thoran (Raw Jackfruit Stir Fry) puli inchi, Avial, Mambazha Pulissery, Chakka Puzhukku, Parippu Curry, Sambar, Rasam, Mango Pickle.
What is the attire? Generally, you are allowed to wear anything. Woman wear Kerala Kasavu Saree, which is also worn during all auspicious occasions it truly symbolizes Malayali women whereas men wear Mundu (Lunki) a plain white cloth with silk border.
Vishu is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. It is considered a festival of light and fireworks, and decorating lights and bursting of firecrackers (Vishupadakkam) is part of the celebration. In the morning or evening, children enjoy setting off firecrackers. Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Pohela Boishakh in Bengal are different celebrations with almost the same significances.