How to Celebrate Vishu 2021 in Your New Apartment
First of all, congratulations on your new apartment in Thrissur! It must be exciting to do the décor, and move in your stuff; and now, Vishu is around the corner. It marks the new year for Malayalis as per the solar calendar and comes every year on the 14th, and some years, on the 15th of April every year.
Vishu Celebration in Kerala is a grand festival; children and adults alike look forward with great eagerness and devotion to the festival each year. Were you worked on how to celebrate Vishu at home this time, considering you are in an apartment?
Well, no need to worry – here we present a brief guide that will make it easy.
Why is Vishu Celebrated?
Let’s first see Why is Vishu celebrated? Though there are several theories to that, perhaps the most important one is that it is the Equinox, or day with equal hours of night and day – and the word Vishu means equal in Sanskrit.
It is a day dedicated to the worship of Lord Vishnu, especially in the form of Krishna.
According to folklore, the Asura king Ravana did not permit the Sun God Surya to rise; Ravana was killed the day before Vishu, and Surya again started rising from the East.
Whatever the reason for celebration, it is commonly agreed that on this day, one should first have an auspicious sighting of the Vishu Kani – a few items which represent prosperity and plenty – before seeing anything else. The next highlight is the Vishu Sadhya. Let’s see what items are required for the Vishu Kani decoration.
Items For Vishu Kani Decoration
- Kani Vellari – golden coloured Indian cucumber
- Kani konna – golden konna flowers
- Kasavu Mundu – a new dhoti with golden border
- A Kindi (vessel with a long spout) with water
- Fruits like banana, jackfruit (halved), grapes, pineapple
- Coconut halved
- A para (old measure) of rice, preferably unhusked
- Betel leaves and Arecanut
- A small box of kajal
- Some coins or currency notes and a gold Jewellery
- Valkannadi – a handheld mirror with a long handle
- Sacred text (Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, etc.)
- Nava dhanyangal – nine different grains, pulses, and cereals
- Nilavilakku – a tall upright brass lamp
All these are to be arranged in an oval-shaped vessel called uruli, traditionally made of five metals (panchaloham), but brass is also fine. Previously, people would place the fruits and vegetables growing in their compounds, but of course with apartment living, this is no longer possible.
On the previous night of Vishu, thoroughly clean the puja room or designated puja area.
If you don’t have a murti (idol) of Sri Krishna, get one – close to Vishu, you will find many beautiful Krishna murtis. Wipe it clean. Place the murti on a clean, fresh cloth, and keep the uruli in front of it, and arrange all the Vishu Kani items in it, making sure that every item is seen clearly.
There are several different beliefs on how to arrange Vishu Kani; some believe that uncooked rice should be spread in the Uruli first, and the Kindi is placed on it with a starched new cloth that is pleated into a fan; the fruits and cloth are placed around this, and the flowers come on top of it all – they are very delicate.
But it is important to place the Krishna murti behind the Uruli on a brick or something else to give it a little height.
- The next morning (Vishu day), the lady of the house wakes up first – traditionally, she would sleep right next to the Kani, light the lamp and view the Kani.
- Then, one by one, she brings the family to see the Kani; they should be brought with their eyes closed, and the lady leading them by the hand.
- It is believed that when one views the Vishu Kani, the moment they open their eyes on the day of Vishu, the following year will be filled with prosperity and good fortune.
Let’s see why these items of the Kani are considered to be a good omen?
- The rice, water, and fruits – are for prosperity; it is so that you may always have plenty of food in your home.
- The same goes for the clothes, money, and gold – symbolizing that the viewers have enough wealth for their needs.
- The lamp is lit to awaken the wisdom in each one in the family, and to illuminate the Vishu Kani; it makes the whole Kani resplendent in its golden light.
- The mirror is placed behind the Krishna murti, and when you bow down to offer your obeisance to Lord Krishna, you also see your reflection.
- This is because of the belief that divinity resides within each one of us, and that we need to recognize it, become aware of it, and awaken it.
This ritual is followed by the granting of the Vishu Kaineettam by the eldest in the family, usually the family patriarch. Children eagerly wait for this ceremony. Money is doled out to everyone as it is an auspicious day.
- The elders of the house then get busy with the preparation of the traditional Vishu Sadhya.
- Now if you find it difficult to prepare the full Sadhya at your Thrissur flat, you can opt to order it a couple of days prior from reputed restaurants, who offer the entire package, including banana leaves. But remember that it does not give you the same satisfaction of preparing it at home.
- Banana leaves are readily available in the market, so you can just buy them the previous day.
- You can purchase all the vegetables required for the Sadhya, and chop and even cook most of the veggies the previous day.
- This will save you the trouble of doing it all on Vishu day.
- You can also get to buy grated, and roasted grated coconut in supermarkets to make your job easier.
- For the Vishu Sadhya, do away with your dining table, and serve the food the traditional way, with everyone seated on the floor.
- When you prepare the Sadhya at home, involve the children in the preparation and cleaning, so that they also feel part of everything, and feel important – and learn the traditional culture of Kerala.
Vishu crackers are also an important part of the celebration of Vishu in Kerala; however, living in apartments in Thrissur, you may not be able to burst crackers. It depends on your society rules. Try to take prior permission for the same, so that the children don’t miss out on this enjoyment.
The date for Vishu 2021 is April 14th – so here’s wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous Vishu, and may we all be free of the Covid-19 pandemic soon!
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