Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vishu the traditional new year of Kerala | Vishu Greeting വിഷു

Vishu, the traditional new year, in Kerala celebrating usually in the second week of April in the Gregorian calendar. Vishu is also a harvest festival with traditional fervor and gaiety, looking ahead to a season of peace and prosperity.   Devout Hindus turn out in their best, to start the new year with a visit to the temple. This occasion signifies the sun's transit into the Meda Raasi (first zodiac sign) according to Indian astrological calculations, and represents the vernal equinox. "Vishu" in Sanskrit means "equal".

കേരളത്തിലെ കാർഷികോത്സവമാണ്‌ വിഷു. മലയാളമാസം മേടം ഒന്നിനാണ്‌ വിഷു ആഘോഷിക്കുന്നത്‌. അടുത്ത ഒരു കൊല്ലത്തെ വർഷഫലത്തെ കുറിച്ചും ഇക്കാലയളവിൽ ജനങ്ങൾ ചിന്തിക്കുന്നു. വിഷുഫലം എന്നാണ്‌ ഇതിനു പറയുക. കേരളത്തിൽ മാത്രമല്ല അയൽ സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിൽ അതിർത്തിയോട് ചേർന്നു കിടക്കുന്ന പ്രദേശങ്ങളിലും വിഷു ആഘോഷിക്കാറുണ്ട്. ഭാരതത്തിലെ മിക്ക സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിലും സമാനമായ ആഘോഷങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ട്. എല്ലായിടത്തും ഭാരതത്തിൽ മുൻപ് നിലവിലിരുന്ന പഞ്ചാംഗം പ്രകാരമുള്ള വർഷാരംഭമാണ്‌ ഈ ദിനം.

'പൊലിക പൊലിക ദൈവമേ തൻ നെൽ പൊലിക' എന്നും മറ്റുമുള്ള പുള്ളുവപ്പാട്ടും വിഷുവിന്റെ ഐശ്വര്യദായക സ്വഭാവത്തെയാണ്‌ കാണിക്കുന്നത്‌. വിഷുവിനു ചെയ്യുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങളുടെ ഫലങ്ങൾ അടുത്ത ഒരു കൊല്ലക്കാലം നിലനിൽക്കുന്നു എന്നാണ്‌ വിശ്വാസം.

The most important event of the day is the 'Vishukani', the auspicious sight of the favorite deity.  Vishukkani, which literally means "the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up". Family members woke up in the wee hours to see "Vishukkani," the ceremonial sighting of auspicious articles like rice, fruits, gold and flowers tastefully arranged in brass vessels, symbolizing hope and promise. The Vishukkani consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh lemon, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli in the puja room of the house. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside.

'Vishukaineettam' is the other one custom and long tradition in the Vishu day.  Elders will give coins to children as part of the custom known as 'Vishukaineettam.' For the children, Vishu comes as a bonanza: Their pockets get more swollen, as it is customary for elders to give a 'vishukaineetam' (a gift) to younger ones in the family.  In the Malabar region in north Kerala, children ushered in Vishu by bursting crackers in the wee hours.

Vishu is also a day of feasting. A sumptuous lunch comprising various dishes and delicacies, mostly made of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhappulissery (a sour mango soup).  Most of the place Vishu feast celebrating with a 26-course Kerala lunch that is served on a large plantain leaf.

Devotees visit temples like Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple to have a "Vishukkani Kazhcha" in the early hours of "Vishu" day.  This day also marked the beginning of the 'Vishu Vilakku' festival in several temples in the northern Kerala. In rural areas, In the northern districts of Kerala fire crackers too are burst in celebration.

The Vishukkani, also called Kanikanal, is inseparable from Vishu. According to the age-old belief of Malayalees, an auspicious kani (first sight) at dawn on the Vishu day is lucky for the entire year. As a result, the Vishukkani is prepared with a lot of care to make it the most positive sight so as to bring alive a wonderful, propitious year ahead.  The responsibility of decorating the Kani belongs to the oldest lady of the house.

Like Vishu, similar festivals are celebrated in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, India, In Assam, this day is called Bihu, in Punjab Baisakhi (originally Vaishakhi), in West Bengal Pohela Boishakh, in Tamil Nadu Tamil Puthandu (Tamil new year) or Vishu punyakalam. Tuluvas celebrate Bisu.