Vishu, the Malayalam new year festival, is celebrated with a lot of gusto every year. Following the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, Vishu is observed on the first day of the month called Medam and the festival signifies the transition of the sun into the Medam Rashi (first solar month). The festival generally falls somewhere in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar. This year it will be celebrated on April 14.
Meaning equality, Vishu represents the celebration of the spring equinox. On this day, Malayali Hindus worship Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna and visit temples in order to have a Vishukkani Kazhcha (viewing/darshan). The festival is observed in the early hours of the day in temples, such as Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple or Kulathupuzha Sree BaalaShastha Temple.
Friends and families come together to mark this day and prepare delicacies. Members of the family wake up early to watch the golden blossoms of the laburnum tree, money, silver items and rice. Children also participate in the revelry by wearing new clothes and bursting fire crackers.
Much like other festivals, food is a special attraction on Vishu. People feast on sadya— a feast consisting of various traditional vegetarian dishes. It is usually served on a banana leaf in Kerala. It is also believed by many that their new year would be better if they view auspicious things on this day. Thus, Malayali women prepare a setting called Vishukkani — with items such as rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, coconut cut open, jack fruit, kanmashi kajal, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, golden yellow Konna flowers, holy Hindu texts, coins or currency notes, oil lamp, and an image of the Hindu God Vishnu. The elderly person in the house lights up the lamp at dawn and blindfolds each member to open their eyes to see the lamp first.