For me, mom's blind folding hands are the first memories of Vishu. They say that the first thing you see on the first day of the year, i.e, Malyalam new year has to be auspicious. Most of us have taken that blind folded trip from the bedroom straight to the pooja room on this special morning. As this is an Indian harvest festival all the goodies of the fresh harvest are spread out on the Uruli. Let us see why Vishu is celebrated the way in this way.
Things That The 'Kani' Stands For In Vishu:
1. Uruli: The most essential object required for Vishu is the Uruli which is a metal plate with raised edges. It can be of varying dimensions just like any other plate. The important thing about Uruli is that it has to be made of 'panchaloham' or 5 basic metals. These metals represent the 5 basic elements of nature and thus, symbolises the universe.
2. Rice Or Kollam: Rice is our staple food and using this paddy crop is very important in this Indian harvest festival. Rice (husked or unhusked) is thus the first thing to be spread out on the uruli.
3. Kasavu Pudava: The traditional white garments with gold border worn in Kerala forms the next layer of the Kani. It can either be new or freshly laundered.
4. The Kindi: A common brass pot (called kalash in the North) is placed next to the uruli. Many women draw swastika on the kindi with kumkumam (vermilion). This pot has a few important elements of Vishu in it. The valkannadi or hand mirror is a must. Then comes the fan like structure pleated with a cloth starched stiff, that is stuffed into the Kindi.
5. Nature's Bounty: Vishu is an Indian harvest festival that symbolises the bountifulness of nature. Thus the 'golden' harvest of the season are all mounted on the Vishu Kani. A golden cucumber (Kanivellari), ripe mango and jackfruit are cut into halves and placed on this plate. A pair of betel leaves give it the trademark of auspiciousness.
6. Gold For A Golden Future: Gold both in colour and kind is central to the Malyalam new year. The uruli must have either a gold coin or an ornament made of pure gold. Also, the golden yellow coloured flowers, Konikonna (significant for Vishu) are placed on top of this neat pile.
7. The Light Of Hope: Deepams or lamps are very important in this festival. They are used as sources of light. Some families use huge standing brass lamps while others use the 2 halves of a coconut as deepams.
Staring at that plate full of nature's bounty, each one of us can feel blessed.