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The Malayalee New Year is celebrated as Vishu throughout Kerala. The festivities begin in the morning and it is a special ritual to wake up and see the special kani -- a collection of auspicious articles: a lamp, coconut, fruits, grain, coins, gold, a yellow flower called konna and a mirror. The inclusion of the mirror is remarkable in that people rarely have the confidence to consider the sight of their own face as something auspicious. The dawn of the New Year day is greeted with fireworks and celebrations. Elders give cash presents to dependents and relatives younger to them. This is called Kayneettam (extending the hand).

The Vishu day celebrations begin with the ‘Vishukani.' ‘Vishu Kani' is the first auspicious thing that people see on the day and this takes place during the Brahma Muhurta or ideally between 0400 hrs and 0600 hrs.

The ‘Vishukani' is usually prepared on the night before the Vishu day. Immediately on awakening from sleep, people close their eyes and proceed towards the place where Vishukani is placed. This is known as Kani Kanal - kani means ‘that which is seen first.'

Vishukani consists of rice, kasavu mundu (traditional cloth of Kerala), gold, silver, coins, mirror (usually Aranmula Kannadi or mirror with a tail), cucumber, mango, jackfruit, coconut, banana, and Kanikonna (yellow flower known as Indian Laburnum). The Vishukani is exhibited in an ‘urali' - a traditional vessel of Kerala. It is placed in front of an idol or portrait of Lord Krishna.


Traditional Kerala lamp is lit near it.

Then, the eldest member in the family gives ‘Vishukaineetam' to the family members. The Vishukaineetam is usually coins but nowadays people also prefer other expensive gifts. Hindus then worship at nearby Sri Krishna temples.

Vegetarian food, consisting of traditional Kerala fare, is prepared on the day and includes the mouthwatering ‘payasam.'

From an astrological point of view, Vishu is of immense significance. The day and night are of equal duration on the Vishu day (12 hours). ‘Vishubhalam' or the predictions for the next year is read on the day.

The preparation for next agricultural season begins on the Vishu day. Earlier, farmers used to plough the land on this day and it was referred as ‘Vishupootu

 

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