Vishu – the Hindu festival of Kerala, India

Vishu is a Hindu festival in the Indian state of Kerala, Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka, and the Mahe district of Pondicherry. The festival connotes the completion of the spring equinox and is notable for its solemnity and the lack of pomp.

Vishu
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Origins and significance of Vishu

Vishu loosely translates to equal. This significance lies in the fact that on this day, the day and night are of the same length. This day marks the astrological transit of the sun into the first solar month.

Since Vishu marks the first day of the astronomical year, Lord Vishnu and his incarnation Lord Krishna have worshipped on this day (as lord Vishnu has considered as the God of time). It has also believed that it is on this day that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.

Festivities

Vishukanni

The word Vishu Kanni meaning ‘that which has seen first on Vishu’. It has believed that the new year will be promising if one views joyful things as the first things on this day. Therefore, a tray filled with items that have considered auspicious has prepared to be considered to be in the first thing. These items include rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, kajal, betel leaves, a cut-open coconut, jackfruit, areca nut, golden yellow flowers, holy Hindu texts, coins, an oil lamp, and an image of Vishnu.

The tray has prepared the evening before Vishu and has placed it in the family puja room. Children have often led to the vishukanni with their eyes covered. This is done to ensure that it be the first thing they see on an auspicious day. The contents of the Vishukanni have often gifted or donated, and the coins have distributed to the children by an elderly family member.

Vishu Sadhya

The sadhya is an integral part of most of the festivals of Kerala. There are, however, unique dishes that are popular as Vishu kanji (a preparation of rice, coconut, milk, and spices), Vishu Katta (freshly harvested rice powder and coconut milk served with jaggery), and thoran that are important for this day. There are also bitter preparations like Veppampoorasam (a painful preparation of neem). The significance of the mixing of sweet and sour flavors is to remind one to expect all characters of experiences in the coming year. 

Vishu Padakkam

Padakkam translated to fireworks. On this day fireworks have burst to celebrate the occasion.

Vishukonna

Konna, commonly known as the golden flower, is the flower of the Vishu festival. Scientifically known as Cassia Fistula, it is the state flower of the state of Kerala. On this day people try to sight these flowers which are in full bloom during this season.

Puthukodi or Vishukodi

The buying of new clothes for the festival is popular as Puthukodi (or vishukodi). Another important tradition of this day is that of the elders giving money to the younger members of the family. This has referred to as Vishukkaineetam.

Pathamudayam

On the tenth day after Vishu, Pathamudayam has celebrated. Astrologically, it has considered the day when the sun is the most powerful. To symbolize the ten sunrises that have happened since Vishu, ten oil lamps are lit in every house on this day.

Also read, Pongal

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