Vishu, a major festival in Kerala falls on the first day in the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May). It marks the beginning of a new year in the Malayalam calendar.
The auspicious day of Vishu also marks the beginning of agriculture calendar in Kerala and the land would witness the beginning of many agricultural activities. Cultivation of new crops commences on this day and the activities would last up to the Pathamudayam day or the tenth day from the Vishu day. Vishu also has astrological relevance.
People clad themselves in new clothes and prepare delicious sadya to celebrate the joy of the day. Firecrackers add charm to the celebrations of the day. There are many festivities and ceremonies associated with Vishu celebrated across the state.
Vishukani is very important for Vishu. The custom leans back to the belief that good things seen on the New Year day bring prosperity throughout the year. The Vishukani, consisting of rice grains, fruits, Konna flowers, gold and new coins- all signifying prosperity- will be arranged by the eldest female member of the family on the day prior to the Vishu day. Placed in a sparkling bell metal pan in front of the image of Lord Krishna, the set gets complete with a lighted Nilavilakku (wick lamp). The yellowish, golden colored Konna flower (Laburnum flower) enhances the beauty of other materials kept as part of the Vishukani.
Some of the other ceremonies as part of Vishu include;
Padukkayiduka, a practice quite popular in south Kerala. Grapes, coconut, banana, rice and mango are used to make the padukka. The padukka is cut open following the auspicious sighting of the Vishukkani on the Vishu day morning;
Kanikkettu, an arrangement made of Laburnum flowers and a bunch of mangoes. This is then hung on the door for people to see after they wake up on the Vishu day:
Kaniyappam a type of pancake collected by children, moving from one house to the other with calls of ‘Kani Kaniye Kani.’:
Vishu Valli, a practice prevalent in south Malabar, is all about giving rice, coconut and oil during Vishu to workers.
Vishuvedukkal, a practice of peasants and workers bringing offerings to the landlord on the Vishu day and in return they receive hansel.