It is New Year again. "Jaya" year has born today (14th April 2014). Though only in Chingam (August-September) Malayalam new year comes in Kerala, Vishu is also celebrated synonymous to New Year. Eventhough 14th April is the New Year day and usually Vishu is celebrated this day, in 2014 Vishu is celebrated on 15th April. This is because the equinox occurs after 7am on first day of Medam.
Vishu signifies significant changes as Sun transits itself into Meda Rasi (first zodiac) according to Indian astrological calculations. During this time day and night will be equal in length, hence the name Vishu which means equal in Sanskrit.
The main festivities of Vishu include "Vishukani" where Konnapoo (treated as Srikrishna's kolusu), fruits, vegetable, rice, paruppu, gold, new currency and coins are arranged in front of Puja Room in an Uruli. In Kerala Krishna statue is a must, whereas we keep mirrors instead. The mirrors are kept to see one's reflection surrounded by all the items kept in Vishu kani. This will give great confidence to the person to take the new year ahead. One must also keep the nilavilakku ready. This must be the first thing on "Vishu day" that one must see. After lighting the nilavilakku, at Brahmamuhurtham (4-5am), the family members one by one see the Kani along with prayers for a year full of prosperity. The head of family then distributes new clothes and "Vishu Kaineettam" (coins) to all the members. All those who come to ones house will be given Vishu kaineettam.
Once this is over the family then participate in bursting crackers (Pattasu) after wearing new clothes. The bursting of crackers is done in order to divert all bad energy (Durdevatha) out of ones house. Also Kottu melakkaran (with Nagaswaram) will come to all houses to play Mangala Isai (Auspicious music). Kaineettam will be given to them also.
Also on this day new year's Panchangam will be first read by Village priest at Bhajanamadam in earlier days. This was read to convey the entire year's phalam (prediction) like rain, drought etc. Now this ceremony is not being conducted.
There will be Vishu kani arranged in Main Ayyappa temple, Mantha Kovil and Bhajanamadam. People will visit and pray to God for best in the coming days. It is a practice to give Kaineettam to the priest/assistants of the temple. Village members will visit other houses and exchange greetings of the day along with Kaineettam.
Special feast/sadya with Paal Payasam will be prepared for lunch. Family then have this sadya with a joint spirit. It is also a great time for the family members residing outside of the village to get together at this time of the year and get blessings of the elders.
Happy Vishu to all. എല്ലാവർക്കും വിഷു ആശംസകൾ.