Vishu is a Hindu festival that observes the beginning of the harvest year. This holiday falls on Medam on the Malayalam calendar—which is around the middle of April on the Gregorian calendar. This holiday marks new beginnings and new hope, and is usually observed with an abundance of family time, the preparation of colorful auspicious items, and then viewing the image of Lord Vishnu as the first thing seen on this day.
These auspicious items can be anything and they usually vary from one place where it’s celebrated to another. In one area, it might be items made of silver or money. In another area, it might be blossoms of Indian laburnum, rice, or other agricultural products. Although this holiday is primarily celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala, that isn’t the only place where it’s celebrated. It’s also observed in Karnataka, in the Tulu Nadu region, and areas surrounding Tamil Nadu. It’s also celebrated by diaspora communities of these states.
Interesting Facts About Vishu
Now that we know that Vishu is an astronomical new year celebration for Hindus in Kerala and other Indian states and diaspora communities, let’s talk about some other things that our readers might not know. Below are some facts that we’ve come across while we were writing this holiday, and we feel that these facts will help to illuminate this holiday a little bit more.
Lord Vishnu Is Viewed First Thing Viewed In The Morning
It’s traditional for Hindus observing this holiday to view an image of Lord Vishnu as the first thing they see in the morning. That’s because they believe that a person’s future is the sum essence of all of their experiences, so by making Lord Vishnu the first thing viewed, they can start their day with a positive experience.
Of course, this initial viewing of Lord Vishnu isn’t the only one that Hindus are going to make throughout the day. Hindus make their way to various Vishnu temples on this day to receive blessings from the lord, so it’s safe to say that they will see many images of Lord Vishnu on this day.
A Lot Of Work Is Required On This Day
It’s traditional for a lot of preparation to be put into the celebration of this day. Women will spend the whole day before the festival preparing food items and decorating their homes. Food items that include coconut, rice, jack fruit, cucumbers, and Konna flowers are prepared.
In some households, this is followed by a tradition in which the oldest member of the family lights a lamp at dawn and then blindfolds other members of the family. This person will then take the blindfolded members of the family to the Vishu setting.
Additional Elements Of A Vishu Celebration
There are a few elements that are present for just about all Vishu celebrations. One element is Vishu Kanji—a rice and coconut porridge made with rice, coconut milk, and various spices. That is the main dish of this celebration.
The main dish of Vishu Kanji is accompanied by Thoran—a vegetable dish that can be made from any number of different vegetables including yardlong beans, cabbage, bitter gourd, green or red cheera, or elephant foot yam. In addition to this glorious feast, people will also celebrate this holiday with a firework display known as Vishu Padakkam.
Traditional Vishu Shopping Has Been Moving Online Recently
It’s a tradition for people to shop for traditional clothes for the Vishu festival. These originally were sold at markets and then moved to brick and mortar stores. Modern celebrations, however, have moved online recently as people shop for clothing, home décor, and food items for this festival.
Vishu Customs & Traditions
The day of 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.