Every culture in the world celebrates New year (not the chronological new year of January 1) of their cultural calendar and today is the New year day of the Malayalam calendar (mostly in the northern parts of Kerala. There are a lot of cultural differences on when to celebrate the New year day but let us put all those aside and enjoy the blog) . The New year day is called Vishu and is celebrated it with great joy (The Bengali calendar also celebrates today as Pohela Baisakh. Here are a few images from the preparations people around me were making today morning.
The symbol of Vishu is the flower of Kanikonna (Cassia fistula).
People decorate their houses with Konna flowers and that is a ripe cucumber hanging along with it. The cucumber signifies new harvest and plenitude.
They even decorate their means of livelihood (autorickshaw, in this case) with the flowers.
This is a traditional Vishukkani (the first thing we see on Vishu day). If you look closely, you can see cucumber,konna flowers, puffed rice (in a plastic packet),etc and the image of the Lord Krishna. This is a great tradition among the Hindu households and is Celebrated in the following way.
The oldest lady in the house wakes up and walks up the puja(prayer) room with her eyes closed and opens her eyes in front of the God (so the first thing she sees on the new year is God). She then takes bath and does puja and sets up this Vishukkani. When the children and other adults wake up, she instructs them not to open their eyes and she guides them,blindfolded, to see the Vishukkani first thing in the morning.This ensures goodness and plenty throughout the year for them. Its a joyous occasion for children as well. They get Vishukkaineettam (pocket money- in the olden days, this was the only day children were given money) and new clothes .
Finally, one thing we all wish for you “All is well.”
Happy Vishu, everyone in general and Malayalis in particular ;)