Vishu Kani is a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala, which is considered to be the beginning of the astrological New Year for them.
This day is celebrated in accordance with the traditional almanac. It occurs in the month of Medam, which according to the Gregorian calendar is the month of April, or Chaitra according to North Indian calendar, and in the second week of it.
It is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare all across Kerala, when houses are decorated and fire crackers are burst in an atmosphere of happiness.
What is Vishu Kani?
Vishu Kani is the most important aspect of this New Year celebration. The ritual of what sees first is broadly the translation of Vishu Kani. It is firmly believed that you see at the first glimpse of Vishu Kani is what or how your year is going to shape up. It is an amalgamation of things put together in an effort to create a plethora of good luck to be ushered in during the course of the ensuing year. The Malayalam word Kani literally means, ‘that which is seen first’. Thus that which is seen first during Vishu is Vishu Kani.
What are the things required for Vishu Kani?
Vishu Kani requires 8 auspicious things mandatorily, or the Ashtamangalyam. These are as follows –
- Uruli – a large vessel made of panchaloham or five different kinds of metals, in the absence of which a normal plain vessel will do.
- Tamboolam or betel leaves
- Akshatam – this is a mixture of rice and turmeric
- Dharu cheppu – this is a small container containing kumkum
- Grantham – aholy book, usually which is Bhagvad Gita
- Darpanam – a long thin based mirror, which is usually Aranmula kanadi
- Ambaram – starched and clean cloth, which is mostly the traditional mundu or kasavu
- Kramugam – this is betel nut
Another important ingredient is the Kanikonna, the flower which is seen in abundance all over Kerala during this season of Vishu. This is a must for Vishu Kani.
Fruits and vegetables
- Thenga Kula – or coconut with small branches
- Mango along with branch and keaves
- Cashew nuts along with branches and leaves
- Idichakka or a small jackfruit
- Kani Vellari or the golden colored cucumber
- Vettilla or betel leaves
- Bananas and other vegetables
Metals and metallic objects –
- Gold or silver
- Nirapara , a measuring vessel which is filled with un-husked rice
- Kindi which is a traditional vessel with a tail used to keep water.
How to arrange the Vishu Kani?
Now that all the ingredients for Vishu Kani has been listed and procured, let us take a look as to how the Vishu Kani is arranged.
- Take an Uruli, which is made of Panchaloham, or 5 metals, which is a symbol of the five elements of this universe, namely, earth, water, fire, air and space.
- Place a fresh white Kasavu pudava and keep the Kanivellari or the golden colored cucumber, the Vettilla or betel leaves, Pazhukkapakku or the reddish yellow colored ripe areca nut, golden colored mangoes, ripe yellow jackfruits cut in halves and the Aranmula Kannadi which is special kind of a mirror with handle that is considered fit for the purpose.
- All these items are considered to be extremely auspicious item for the Vishu Kani.
- Now take a starched clean cloth and arrange it like a fan. Insert this in the shining brass Kindi. Insert the val-kannadi which is the thin gold plated mirror too in the Kindi. Now place this kindi in the uruli on top of the rice.
- In a flat bottomed vessel keep rice silver coins and flowers.
- Now one has to keep the Kani Uruli in front of the Lord Vishnu or Krishna for prayers and meditation. A Nilavilakku or bronze oil lamp has to be lighted.
- Two deepams, which are made out of the broken halves of coconut are kept in the uruli too. The wicks are made from starched clean cloths and the oil is coconut oil which keeps the wicks in place. The lighting of this lamp is said to usher in the Lord in our house to drive away darkness and negativity.
- Kanikkonna is placed in the uruli and also used to decorate the puja room lending a golden yellow glow to the room.
How does one watch the Vishu Kani?
- The elder of the house, the grandmother or the mother will arrange the Vishu Kani and sleep in the puja room.
- Upon waking she will see this and light all the lamps and pray.
- After that she will go to the other rooms to awaken the sleeping members, who will come with their eyes closed and open them to see the glorious and golden sight of the Lord in all his resplendent glory.
- The Darpanam, not only signifies Bhagwati Devi but also lends a clear image of the glorious Vishu Kani.
- The Vishu Kani then is brought to those who have been unable to go and view it.
- Then the Vishu Kani is taken out of the house to the cow shed and shown to the birds, cows and the trees. It is actually for the beautiful nature also to see and be prayed for.
- This signifies that this auspicious and abundant vision is not only for our consumption but for the whole of nature to rejoice and pray for a good year to come.
What are Vishu Sadhya and Vishu Padakkam (crackers)?
Like any Indian festivity feasting is also an important part of Vishu Kani. The feast made for this occasion is known as Sadhya. Many symbolic foods make up the feast. Crackers are burst by the children to add to the mood of festivity.