Vishu, celebrated in Kerala in India, is a Hindu festival that observes the beginning of the harvest year. This holiday falls on Medam in the Malayalam calendar – which is around the middle of April on the Gregorian calendar. This holiday marks new beginnings and new hope. In Kerala, it is seen as a very auspicious day.
History of Vishu
According to legend, for thousands of years the demon king Ravana prevented Surya deva – otherwise known as the sun god – to rise directly from the East. It wasn’t until the death of the demon king that Surya deva was allowed to rise once again from the East. The day on which he rose was Vishu – which is why it is celebrated in Kerala today.
Vishu Customs & Traditions
A typical day on Vishu begins with devotees saying their morning prayers. Visukkani is then prepared by the mother of the family using yellow cucumbers, rice, betel leaves, gold ornaments, coins in a silver cup, a metal mirror and other things. Ramayan, the holy text, is then recited during puja. After that, the feast of Sadya is prepared. A typical Sadya meal contains a variety of different dishes served on a banana leaf. Some of the things that may be served include Kerala red rice, a lentil dish called Parippu, a vegetable chowder or gravy called Sambar, a soup called Rasam, Avial, Kaalan, Injipuli, Sambharam, banana, coconut, Pachadi, Thoran and Sharkara Upperi.
Many devotees also visit many of the temples on this day to pray, give money to the poor and give gifts to friends and family members. Children will often shoot off fireworks on this day. Most people will dress in their finest clothes for Vishu. Women will often adorn themselves with the best jewelry and golden ornaments. Many of the men will wear their khadi shirts with their best mundu around their waist.