Malayalam New Year
Vishu festival or Malayalam New Year falls on the first of Malayalam month of Medam (March-April). A number of rituals and customs are associated with the festival. It's not a pompous festival but more of a homely affair. People of Kerela like to spend it with their family members.
Vishu Traditions and Customs
Vishukani or Kani Kanal
is the most popular tradition followed by people of Kerela. As per the popular belief, year's prosperity depends upon the type of the first object viewed in the morning. There is a list which tells about various auspicious items to be seen on Vishu morning. Ladies keep all the prescribed items ready a night before the Vishu. A Cadian leaf book, gold ornaments, a new white cloth, raw rice, yellow cucumber, betel leaves, flowers of the Konna tree, halved jack fruits, holy grantha and coconut are kept in a bell metal vessel called 'uruli'
. Behind the vessel is kept a bell metal mirror and a Lord Krishna deity. Two lighted oil lamp called Nilavilakku
is also placed alongside. The head of the family is the first person to see the holy things. Children are brought blindfold. Special care is taken that family members do not see any other thing except Vishukani. Later, Vishukani is offered to God and distributed amongst poor. Children and other young members of the family get a small gift on this day and this tradition of gift-giving is called Vishu Kaineetam
Once the custom of Vishukani gets over, people take a dip in the holy water or take bath at their home and visit nearby temples to offer prayers. To celebrate the festival of Pooram Vishu, people of Kerela wear Kodi Vastram. These are new clothes specially worn on auspicious occasions. People of Kerela multiply Vishu celebrations by traditional singing and dancing. They also burst Patassu (firecrackers). Evening time is for lavish meals. Women prepare sadya (feast). These are special dishes prepared using jackfriuts, mangoes, pumpkins and gourds. To mark Vishu, traditionally people prepare Moru Kutan - a savoury stew made with yoghurt, Payassam (Kheer), Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour mango soup). Malayalam feast is an equal proportion of all tastes.
Great amount of excitement can also be seen in the villages of Kerela. Men and women dress up like Chozhi by wearing a skirt of dried banana leaves and masks on their faces. They entertain people by various traditional dances and dramas. These entertainers would move house to house collecting money to be spent in Vishuwela which is a New Year Fair in Kerela. .
New Year in Different Parts of India