Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Waking up to the Vishu Kani

  • Vishu Kani is the begining of the new year for malayalees celebrated on 14th April every year. On this day viewing the Kani in the morning is considered auspicious. Friends and relatives join together in the traditional meal, the sadhya.
  • For malayalis, the new year is the time to usher in prosperity and Vishu kani, which is placed in the puja room the night before, is central to celebrations. The woman of the house places a large cucumber in rice in an uruli (a large brass vessel), with bananas, mangoes and other fruits and vegetables, the mundu (white and gold kerala dress), betel nut and a lamp placed around it. "The important things are gold and silver coins, konna poo (the golden yellow cassia fistula) and a mirror. Everything is in shades of golden yellow, which signifies prosperity for the year ahead."
  • The kani is arranged after every one goes to bed. "The eldest person wakes up every one in the household at dawn and covers their eyes and takes us to see the kani. It's supposed to be the first thing you see during the new year." The eldest in the family also give younger people money. "It can be as little as one rupee or much more." It's called Vishu Kaineetam."
  • Vishu falls on the first day of the malayalam month Medam, which runs from mid April to mid May. It's a time for family and freinds to get together for an elaborate lunch, the sadya, which includes avial, moru curry, ripe mango pullicherri, payasam and other traditional kerala dishes. "Cooking is easier now as you get ready-cut vegetables, grated coconut and coconut milk. Earlier, it took hours to cook a sadya."
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