Vishu Festival: How to arrange Vishukani

Vishu is traditionally celebrated as a New Year in the Malayalam Calendar. "Vishu" is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. Vishu is also a day of feasting. The foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items.

The word Vishu is a Sanskrit word which means equal and thus it denotes equinox days. It is considered as the harvest festival of Kerala and thus is very important to the Malayalees. Features Vishukkani means ‘that which is seen first on Vishu’. This Vishukkani is a panorama of different auspicious items which include gold items, fruits and vegetables, clothes, coins etc. 
On the day of Vishu Festival viewing the Vishukkani early at the morning is considered to be very auspicious. This Vishukkani is offered to the deity on the day of the festival. The puja rituals require elaborate arrangements which include rice, fresh linen, cucumber, betel leaves and nuts, metal mirror, arecanut etc. This Vishu Festival marks the end of the Malayalam New Year. Rituals On this day there is a custom of getting up early at the morning and close to the puja room with closed eyes to get the view of the Vishukkani first and then anything else. After viewing the Vishukkani it is considered a ritual to read any of the Hindu holy books.
 It is also believed that the page of Ramayana which the reader will open up first will bear in his/her life in the coming year.

During the day of Vishu Festival people visit the famous temples like SabarimalaAiyappam Temple, GuruvayurShri Krishna Temple to have a VishukkaniKazcha at the early hours of the day. To prepare the Kanni the women of the family take a large dish made of bell metal called Uruli and arrange flowers, coins, a split coconut, mangoes, jack fruits and many more items in it.

Another ritual that marks the day is Kaineettam (hansel) when the older members give a coin to the younger members of the family. The Vishukkani is later taken and distributed among the poor people. It is not uncommon for children to burst fireworks after the Vishukkani. The people wear new clothes (kodi vastram) for the occasion and the elders of the family distribute tokens of money to the children, servants and tenants. These tokens are called Vishukkaineetam and are usually in form of coins. People carry on this custom believing that in this way, their children will be blessed with prosperity in the future. 

How to arrange Vishukani 

 Ashtamangalyam, eight auspicious things, are a must for Vishu. This includes: A large vessel called Uruli made of panchaloham – five metals - or normal Uruli or clean tray. Tamboolam - Betel leaves Akshatam – a mixture of rice and turmeric Dharu cheppu – Kumukumam in a small container Grantham – Book usually Bhagavad Gita Darpanam – Mirror usually Aranmula kanadi Ambaram – Cloth – A nice clean traditional Kerala mundu (Kodi mundu) Kramugam: Betel nut .

The Ashtamangalyam is common in the arrangement of Vishukani in various regions. Next most important item on the list is the Kanikonna, a yellow color flower found throughout Kerala during the Vishu season. Most people are ready to give a miss to most items in the long Vishukani list but not the Kanikonna. It is a must for all people. Fruits and Vegetables Mango fruit along with its small branches and leaves Two or more Coconuts with its branch (Thenga Kula) At least two Cashew nuts along with small branches and leaves Small jackfruit (idichakka) Pineapple Golden colored cucumber (Kani Vellari) Bananas And other fresh vegetables Metals Gold Coins Nirapara (A measuring vessel filled with un-husked rice) Kindi (A traditional vessel with a tail used to keep water) Those people who do not have an uruli usually use any clean tray. The auspicious items are kept in front of an idol of Lord Krishna.

The items are either placed in an uruli or sliver plate. Items that don’t fit into the tray or uruli are placed nearby. Traditional Kerala lamp – Nila Vilakku – is lit. In some places the traditional Kerala mundu is made into a fan shape and is inserted in the Kindi. The mirror is also inserted in it. The Vishukani is arranged on the previous night. Usually the eldest female member in the family sleeps in the room in which the Vishukani is prepared. She wakes up early in the morning and lights the lamp (between 4 am and 6 am). She then closes the eyes of each person in the family and guides each person to the Vishukani. After the Vishukani, the eldest member in the family distributes the Vishukaineetam – a coin.

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