Celebrated with utmost joy and gaiety in Kerala and Karnataka, Vishu is the Malayalam new year festival. Following the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, it is observed on the first day of the month called Medam. Vishu signifies the sun’s transit into the Meda Raasi (first solar month). Mostly, it falls in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar and this year, it is on April 14. On the same day, Hindus revel in new year in other parts of the nation, but it is called Baisakhi.
Vishu means “equal” and it represents the celebration of the spring equinox. Malayali Hindus worship Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna on the day, and also visit temples to have a Vishukkani Kazhcha (viewing). Vishu is observed in the early hours of the day in the house of God such as Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple or Kulathupuzha Sree BaalaShastha Temple.
Families get together and prepare colourful auspicious items for the Vishu festival. On the day it falls, family members wake up early and view those first. Seeking to view the golden blossoms of the laburnum tree, money, silver items and rice, Malayali Hindus revel in the festival. Children wear new clothes and fire crackers.
Food is a special attraction on Vishu with Sadya — a mix of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Malayali women prepare a setting called Vishukkani — prolific 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.