Vishu ,the malayali new year falls on the first day of malayali month of Medam according to the Kollam calander. This year, it is on April 14th. Legend has it that the Kollam Era began on the day Parashurama, the sixth incarnition of Lord Vishnu, created Kerela while making the waters of the Arabian sea recede when he flung his axe at it. Religious solemnity marks the day for the unostentatious malayalis, who's celeberations are relatively low scale in pomp and gaiety.

The main ritual on this day is 'vishukani' or 'kanikanal' (first sight). People beleive that the first things they see on vishu morning will have a bearing on their prosperity in the coming year. A ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like gold ornaments,rice grains , fresh linen, coconut, yellow cucumber, a metal mirror, coins and yellow kanipoo (cassia flowers) are kept before a garlanded portrait of shree krishna along with a lighted lamp.

prepared vishikani

Children are brought blind folded from their rooms to see the vishukani after the elders have had their darshan at the crack of dawn. Until last year, I went through the motions mechanically. I was more interested in the vishu kaineetam, wherein elders give children and younger family members cash, gifts etc. This was said to ensure the receivers prosperity. The welcome addition to out pocket money made vishu attractive to my cousins and me.

But this year I decided to find out all that I am writing right now. Ritual of vishukani became a matter of deep faith. I had realised by then that surrender to god was the basis of all success in life. So, the lords darshan before entering the new year infused me with confidence to face life's turbulances with equanimity. The experiance became both humling and empowering.


Many people in kerala perform vishukani in temples. This is later distributed among the poor. New clothes, fire crackers, and a grant saadya (feast) are other attractions. Though lakhs of malayalis have set up home far from Kerela's palm-fringed beaches, they celeberate vishu as an article opf faith at home and through malayali associations.


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