Vishu, Kerala’s spring festival – which occurs during the spring equinox – is a harbinger of a colourful and glorious season. The only major festival occuring after Onam, Vishu marks a celebration of riotous colours, delicious fruits, and the time for farmers to prepare their lands for cultivation.
The festival is also marked by families spending time together to celebrate the completion of the spring equinox.
Vishu Kani and the Blessings of Nature
In Malayalam, the word Kani denotes something that’s seen first. And so, Vishu Kani, which is a special setting in every family’s prayer room, is prepared by the lady of the house for every family member to first see on the day of the festival.
The Amaltas tree, which would flower exactly during Vishu, before the effects of global warming took over.
A typical Vishu Kani preparation includes all items that are considered auspicious, for instance rice, coconuts, jackfruit, yellow konna flowers (Cassia fistula), along with the Bhagavad Gita or Ramayana, new clothes, coins, and jewellery.
All these items are gathered in a large vessel – called Uruli – made of alloy and placed in front of a lighted lamp, a decorated idol of the lord Krishna, and a metal mirror.
Vishu Kani: The First Sight
According to tradition, the mother or the eldest member of the family wakes up early to light the lamp after a ritual bath. She then wakes up each family member at a time, covers their eyes with her hands and guides them to see the Vishu Kani for Lord Krishna’s blessings.
The belief is that the first sight – as a reflection through the metal mirror – of all these auspicious items lends a positive vibe and blessings for a fresh beginning of life.
The mother also gifts a silver coin (or a larger amount) – known as kaineetam – to each family member and every guest who comes to the house. In every home, Vishu is celebrated with an elaborate lunch during the the day and splendid fireworks at night!
Do let us know if you’d like to plan a trip to Kerala during Vishu. We’ll be glad to help you out!