A low profile Vishu for Kerala Hindus

4/14/2021

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 If the last year's Vishu went off as closed door on account of the Covid pandemic, this time, with the pandemic continuing its surge with cases spiking like never before, for Hindus in Kerala, Vishu - the traditional New Year, is believed to signal the arrival of good luck and fortune for the coming year and is being celebrated on Wednesday with a lot more gusto than in 2020.

If in 2020, with the pandemic announcing its arrival and the country and the world entering an unknown territory of total lockdown, Vishu went practically unnoticed, but this time, on Wednesday morning there was a rush in temples across the state but, devotees were seen observing Covid protocols and maintaining social distancing.

The most important Vishu event happens indoors, in one's own homes as the custom for the day is to have the 'Vishukani darshan' (auspicious sight of their favourite deity, the first thing in the morning), that is arranged, by the women folk, the previous night in their puja room.

The puja room is decked up, where in a special vessel (urali) apart from fresh farm produces which include cucumber, pumpkin, coconut, plantains, mangoes, pineapples, rice, grains and even areca nut are neatly arranged and kept in front of their favourite deities.

However, the most sought after product today that is a must in all homes that is neatly displayed in the worship room is the bright yellow konna flowers (cassia fistula - also known as the Golden Shower Tree).

The first thing that happens early morning is when elders in the house after having their darshan of this at the puja room, then go to wake up others in the house and after closing their eyes, each one of them are brought into the worship room and then only they open their eyes, to have the first darshan of the day, which is often referred to as 'vishukani'.

Another important event of the day is the giving away of 'vishukaineetam' (a gift) and it is mostly given in coins.

The custom is the head of the household gives away coins to other members and there are some who are particular to get their's from people who are considered as lucky charms.

Irrespective of the Covid pandemic, there is no change in the major meal of the day, when the entire household gets ready for partaking of the traditional Vishu lunch, which is, Kerala's time tested and most sought after, a 26-course vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf.

Here, the only difference, is while in the southern and central districts of the state, this is a pure vegetarian meal, but in northern districts, the lunch consists of non vegetarian dishes too.

Hindus constitute more than 50 per cent of the 33 million Kerala population, but today it has become a truly secular event and the 26-course lunch has become the order of the day.

Today, hotels and caterers are ready with packed Vishu lunch and a packet for five costs Rs 2,000 and upwards and those in this business make a killing.

Source: IANS

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