Vishu is the Hindu new year festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala and nearby Tulunadu region of Coastal Karnataka. The festival follows the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar as the first day of month called Medam. It therefore always falls in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar on or about 14 April every year.
Vishu, on April 14 – is the first day of Medam Month in Malayalam calendar is also celebrated as New Year day and it is the zodiac New Year. On the day of Vishu – a day that has equal number of hours of daylight and darkness – which describes the origin of the word “Vishu” and in Sanskrit – it means “equal”.
Yearly star predictions are announced on the day of Vishu (this is known as Vishu Phalam). Lord Krishna Vigraha is decorated with flowers, vegetables etc . Following this, people of Kerala observe the tradition of Vishu Kani. The special feast which is served on Vishu is called Sadya. A special dish Kanji is also prepared using rice, coconut milk and spices.
Vishu Kani is “the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up”. The traditional belief is that one’s future is a function of what one experiences, that the new year will be better if one views auspicious joyful things as the first thing on Vishu. Therefore Malayali Hindu women spend the day before preparing a setting, usually a tray, of auspicious items. This setting is the first thing they see when they wake up on the Vishu day.
The tradition of buying of new clothes for the occasion of Vishu is called Puthukodi or Vishukodi. After Vishu Kani all family members wear new clothes to collect Vishukkaineetam. This is a practice of distributing wealth in form of coins by the elderls of the family to the young ones.
The Sadhya (feast) is a major part of all Kerala festivals. However, special dishes called Vishu Kanji, Thoran and Vishu katta are more important on the new year day. The Kanji is made of rice, coconut milk and spices. Vishu katta is a delicacy prepared from freshly harvested rice powder and coconut milk served with jaggery.
Padakkam means firecrackers, Children enjoy setting off firecrackers like people burst crackers on Diwali.