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What is Vishu? - The New Year in Kerala

By AiswaryaApril 05, 2024
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The festival of Vishu is mostly celebrated in the state of Kerala, parts of Karnataka, and adjoining southern parts of India to mark the beginning of the New Year. 

Vishu is the first day of “Medam”, the first month in the Malayalam calendar. Not only in Kerala, but the festival also has worldwide significance. It is known by names such as Bihu in Assam, Vishua Sankranti in Orissa, Baisakhi in Punjab, and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

Vishu 2023 - The New Year In Kerala

Also Read: Tamil New Year 2024 (Puthandu): Date & Significance

The Malayalees celebrate the auspicious day by preparing the famous Vishu Kani, organizing a grand feast, and bursting crackers. The family's elders distribute gifts & money as blessings to loved ones. Aside from marking the beginning of a New Year, Vishu also sets the start of the first zodiac sign, Meda Rashi.

Let’s know about the festival of Vishu in detail:

Vishu Date 2024

Malayalee devotees celebrate Vishu as New Year's Day. When is Vishu 2024? Every year, Vishu generally falls in the second week of April, according to the English calendar. This year, it will be celebrated on April 14 2024, Sunday.

How to Celebrate Vishu?

The people of Kerala celebrate the Vishu Festival with lots of joy, fun, and enthusiasm. Many traditions and customs are followed on this day. Here they are as follows:

Cleaning & Decorating the House

A day before the Vishu festival celebration, people clean their houses as it is believed that cleanliness in homes and surroundings fades away all the negativities and brings in more prosperity & happiness. On the morning of Vishu, people decorate their entrances with flower garlands, banana plants, and beautiful Rangolis. At night, they also illuminate their houses with colorful decorative lights.

Preparing a Traditional Vishu Kani or the Vishu Sight

The day of Vishu begins with seeing the traditional Vishu Kani as the very thing in the morning by the family members to have a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.

Vishu Kani

What is Vishu Kani?

The traditional name Vishu Kani comes from the Malayalam word “Kani”, which means “that which is seen first.” So, the name Vishu Kani means “that which is seen first in Vishu.” Under this tradition, the eldest female member of the family prepares a big pot for Vishu Kani decoration. Different Vishu Kani items are placed in the pot ranging from coconut, rice, a variety of seasonal fruits, Konnapoo flowers known as Vishu flowers, fresh lemon, a holy book like Ramayanam or Bhagavad Gita, etc., a piece of gold ornament, a silver cup with coins and a new piece of cloth, etc. This pot is then placed in front of an image of Lord Krishna with lighted earthen lamps in the Pooja Room. The woman who makes this Vishu Kani is known as “Kani Kanal.”

In the early morning on the day of Vishupulari, it is customary for the family members to see the Vishu Kani first thing after waking up with a special mirror called “Valkannadi”. Watching the Vishu Kani first thing in the morning is said to bring prosperity & good luck to the family members.

Visiting Temples

On the day of Vishu, people perform Pooja in their homes and ask the Lord to fill their lives with happiness. They also go to the temples of Lord Vishnu, where special prayers are held on the occasion of this festival. Temples like Sabarimala, Guruvayoor, and Padmanabha attract many devotees. People feed the poor and needy at temples.

Eating the Traditional Sadhya

Vishu festival is not only about traditional rituals but also involves the custom of feasting. Various special dishes are prepared using mangoes, pumpkins, guards, and other seasonal vegetables and fruits. The highlight of this grand feast is “Sadhya”, which consists of about 24–28 dishes served as a single course on a fresh plantain leaf. The dish has plain boiled rice and a variety of other dishes like kaalan, parippu, thoran, pachadi, sambar, rasam, koottukari, erissery, banana chips, pickles, buttermilk, papadam, banana, etc. with several types of sweets.

Bursting Crackers and Exchange Gifts

The main ritual of the Vishu festival is Vishu Padakkam, where Malayalees burst crackers right after seeing Vishu Kani. Men mostly wear traditional Mundu, while women wear sarees and jewellery and exchange gifts, wishing Vishu wishes to each other.  The older family members give money or silver items as gifts to kids known as “Vishu kaineetam” and younger ones seek their blessings. The ritual is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to the family.

Why is Vishu Celebrated?: The Significance of Vishu Festival

The day of Vishu is the most important day among Malayalees. The beginning of the New Year also marks the arrival of new hopes and aspirations into their lives. People fulfill every ritual with lots of care & enthusiasm to bring prosperity and happiness in the coming year. 

The importance of the Vishu festival is to have a joyful start to the year. One mythological significance is that on this day, Lord Shri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura, and the festival is celebrated to mark his victory. Another significant aspect of the Vishu festival is bonding within the family. The feast of Sadhya is consumed by the whole family sitting together. The elders give money to the younger ones, which is believed to bring luck and happiness.


Fireworks are the main highlight of the Vishu festival, even more than Diwali. The whole family comes together to enjoy, strengthening the bond.

Summing Up

The festival of Vishu is observed across the country under different names establishing the day's significance. Vishu is about thanking Lord Krishna and seeking blessings to bring prosperity, wellness, and happiness. There is also a tradition of buying new clothes on this occasion, known as Vishukodi. It brings all family members together to welcome a great start to the year. So, wish you all a very Happy Vishu.

FAQs on What is Vishu? - The New Year in Kerala

1. When is Vishu this year?

This year, the festival of Vishu will be celebrated on the 14th of April, 2024, Sunday. 

2. Why is Vishu celebrated?

The Vishu festival marks the beginning of the New Year as per the Malayalam calendar. People prepare Vishu Kani and worship Lord Krishna on this day to seek prosperity.

3. Why do we keep a mirror in Vishu Kani?

The mirror used to see Vishu Kani first thing in the morning signifies the goddess and the reflection of things in the mirror shows that these would be multiplied by her grace.

4. What is Vishu festival?

Vishu is a traditional festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala and in some parts of coastal Karnataka. It marks the beginning of the Malayalam New Year and typically falls in April, according to the Gregorian calendar. The festival holds cultural and religious significance, symbolizing hope, prosperity, and the onset of a new agricultural cycle. On Vishu, people wake up early in the morning to view 'Vishukkani,' a special arrangement of auspicious items, which is believed to bring good luck for the rest of the year. Additionally, Vishu is celebrated with feasts, family gatherings, fireworks, and the giving of 'Vishukkaineetam' or monetary gifts to younger members of the family.

5. Vishu festival is celebrated in which state?

Vishu festival is primarily celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala.

6. How to wish Vishu in Malayalam?

To wish Vishu in Malayalam, you can say "Vishu Ashamsakal" (വിഷു ആശംസകള്‍).

7. How to celebrate Vishu? 

Vishu, celebrated mainly in Kerala and parts of South India, involves:

  1. Vishu Kani: Viewing auspicious items for prosperity.

  2. Vishu Sadhya: Enjoying a grand vegetarian feast.

  3. Cultural Activities: Participating in traditional games and cultural programs.

  4. Vishu Kaineetam: Exchanging blessings and tokens of money.

  5. Vishu Pulari: Lighting firecrackers to welcome the New Year.

  6. Family Time: Spending quality moments with loved ones.

  7. Temple Visits: Seeking blessings for the year ahead.

  8. New Attire: Wearing new clothes, especially traditional attire.

  9. Charity: Extending acts of kindness and generosity.

  10. Reflection: Reflecting on the past year and setting resolutions for the future.

8. What is Vishu Kani?

Vishu Kani is the auspicious arrangement of items symbolizing prosperity, abundance, and good fortune, which is viewed first thing in the morning on the day of Vishu, typically before sunrise. It is believed that witnessing the Vishu Kani brings blessings for the year ahead.

9. Why is Vishu always on April 14th?

Vishu falls on April 14th each year because it is based on the solar calendar, specifically the Malayalam calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar. This date corresponds to the astronomical event of the sun's transition into the first zodiac sign, Aries, known as the Mesha Sankranti, marking the beginning of the new year in Kerala and other parts of South India.