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Vishu is a festival that celebrates the harvest season. It also marks the beginning of the Malayalam New Year. The festival also marks the arrival of the spring season in Kerala. In spirit, Vishu is similar to Ugadi of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka, Gudi Padwa of Maharashtra, Baisakhi of Punjab and Bihu of Assam.
All these festivals are celebrated around the same time of the year. Each festival has its own legend that explains the meaning of the celebration but the spirit of all the festivals unite the people of India as one.
Vishu usually falls in the months of March and April. According to the local astrological calendar, Vishu is celebrated on the first day of Medam (month). The festival of Vishu marks the movement of the sun to the Aries constellation or in other words, Mesha Rashi.
This is the day when the farmers start their work in the fields. The prime crop of Kerala is paddy. Paddy and other crops that are suitable to be planted during this time flourish and thrive when sown after Vishu.
This year, Vishu falls on the fourteenth of April according to the Gregorian calendar. According to the Malayalam calendar, Vishu starts in the third phase of Vishakam star. The best time to sow the Vishu Kani starts from 4.34 am and lasts till 6.17 am on the fourteenth of April.
Stay with us to read more about the rituals of Vishu and their spiritual meaning.
The Mythology Behind Vishu
There are many stories that explain the origin of Vishu. The most common among them states that Vishu marks the day on which Lord Krishna had slayed the Demon King Narakasura.
Another popular story tells us that at the peak of his power, the demon Ravana had stopped the Sun God from rising in the east. It was only after Lord Shri Rama killed Ravana that the Sun could rise from the east again. The festival of Vishu celebrates the return of Surya Bhagavan. The return of the Sun God is a symbol of the start of a New Year and New beginnings.
The Hindu people of the Malayalam speaking community prepare Vishu Kani. Vishu Kani is perhaps the most important aspect of the Vishu celebrations. New beginnings are given extreme importance among the people all around the world and Vishu Kani represents the same.
As the day breaks on the New Year, Vishu Kani is the first thing that one is supposed to see. Vishu Kani is supposed to bring luck to the observer and promises a year filled with happiness and prosperity.
The eldest woman of the house gathers all the things needed for the Vishu Kani and arranges it in the pooja area. Each object in the Vishu Kani represents something and deserves a mention here.
- First and foremost, there is an idol of Lord Krishna placed. This is to remind the devotee that one must always keep God in mind as he embarks on something new.
- Another important object is the mirror. The Vishu Kani observer must first open his eyes to see Lord Krishna, then see himself in the mirror. This is to say that God resides in oneself. It is also believed that the mirror represents Goddess Lakshmi and looking at one's own image in the mirror on Vishu is said to bring health and wealth to the observer.
- A lighted lamp is kept in front of the Lord to symbolize the brightness that is showered upon the souls who see the Vishu Kani.
- Other goodies that are kept include gold, new cotton cloths, yellow flowers, fruits, raw rice, areca nuts, betel leaves, money and coins.
All of the above represent prosperity and good luck. It is believed that the person who sees a fully arranged Vishu Kani is not troubled by financial difficulties for the rest of the year.
The eldest member of the family wakes up early in the morning, gently closes the eyes of the family member who has just awakened and leads him to the Vishu Kani. As he opens his eyes to see the beautifully arranged Vishu Kani, his year is blessed with happiness and prosperity and he is freed of all negativity.
The Reading Of The Ramayana
The holy book of the Ramayana is randomly opened by each member of the house. The page which every member opens and the story it tells is believed to predict his fortunes in the coming year.
An exhaustive spread of tasty dishes is served known as 'Sadya'. All the members of the household come together and relish the spread. There are others who make simple dishes known as the Vishu Kanji and Vishu Katta instead of the Sadya. These dishes contain herbs and other ingredients that promote health and keep sickness away.
Kaineetam is another indispensable part of Vishu celebrations. The elders of the family hand out some amount of money to the younger members of the household. The Kaineetam is representative of their blessings and a hope for a fruitful and prosperous New Year.
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