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Vishu: The harvest festival of Kerala

Like most parts of India, festivals in Kerala are an integral part of the social and cultural structure of the state. It is the best time to plan one’s travel to the southern state. In Kerala, every community, every religion has something to celebrate about all throughout the year. Vishu is one of the important festivals of Kerala. According to the traditional Malayalam calendar, it is the 1st day of the first month Medam (March-April) of the New Year. Traditional rituals are followed to bring in another year of prosperity.

Vishu is one of the most popular festivals of Kerala. Since it is considered propitious to view good things on this day for year round good fortune, Vishu morning is an important time. The heart of this festival of Kerala is the preparation of the kani (the lucky sight or gift).  The custom of preparing the kani has been followed for generations. The women take a large dish made of bell-metal (uruli), arranged in it a grantha (palm-leaf manuscript), a gold ornament, a new cloth, some flowers from the Konna Tree (Cassia fistula), some coins in a silver cup, a split coconut, a cucumber, some mangoes and a jack-fruit. On either side of the dish are placed two burning lamps with a chair facing it. Family members are taken blindfolded and then their blindfolds are removed and they view the Vishu Kani. As in other Indian festivals, a great feast at home is the high point of celebrating Vishu in Kerala.

Vishu (New Year) is being celebrated by the people in Kerala in particular and the Malayalee community in general all over the world and the Tamilians settled in Kerala as well. Tamilians celebrate Tamil New year day with pomp and gaiety all over Tamil Nadu.  Punjabi’s celebrate this as Vaisaki as the festival of harvest season. In Kerala on the New Year day every one rises early in the morning to view Vishu Kani, which is an assortment of cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and money kept in front of a big mirror and oil lamps and incense sticks to lit around it. After viewing Vishu kani people visit temple in the morning, adorn new clothes and greet each other, visit relatives and friends and seek blessings of the elders in year round. There will be prosperity in life and you are likely to get food, clothing and other material benefits along with money throughout the year. In Kerala people will be bubbling with activities and there will be a long week-end there.


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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