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.
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:
Malayalee devotees celebrate Vishu as New Year's Day. When is Vishu 2023? Every year, Vishu generally falls in the second week of April, according to the English calendar. This year, it will be celebrated on Saturday, April 15.
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:
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.
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. 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.
On the day of Vishu ashamsakal, 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.
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 a dish named “Sandhya”, 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.
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.
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 Sandhya 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.
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.
1. When is Vishu 2023?
This year, the festival of Vishu will be celebrated on Saturday, the 15th of April.
2. What is the significance of the Vishu celebration?
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.