This Vishu is gonna be Different
Vishu, the festival of harvest and prosperity resonates with symbolism of abundance in every sense. The word in Sanskrit means 'equal' and represents the celebration of the spring equinox. Ancient astrologers considered the time when the sun enters into Sidereal Aries or Ashwini nakshatra to be the beginning of the Zodiac New Year according to the Malayalam calendar. This day is considered to be greatly auspicious and is celebrated as Vishu in the state of Kerala.
The values that the rituals and traditions of the festival try to teach us, are to be imbibed with utmost care. The myths and the legends associated with these are often a means to enable the different generations to accept the values they represent in an easily understandable manner.
The Vishukkani as the custom demands is assembled by incorporating various elements arranged neatly to depict prosperity and abundance . It is customary for all who observe the festival to open their eyes early in the morning, to view the Vishu Kani first, on the day of Vishu, to usher in year long success and blessings. The significance behind each item and the reason for adding it as part of the Kani, needs to be understood properly in order to follow the rituals diligently.
Idol of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna , the playful avatar of Lord Vishnu who is the ‘preserver of creation’, is focused upon during Vishu Festival. Vishnu is considered to be the God of time- Kaala Purusha and also the paramatman. Since Vishu marks the first day of the Zodiac New Year, it is considered appropriate to begin the day by worshipping Lord Vishnu.
The large traditional vessel in Kerala made from panchaloham - a combination of five metals including Gold, Silver, Brass, Copper and Iron). Panchaloham is a symbolic representation of the five great elements in the universe—earth, water, fire, air and space. Hence uruli is the symbolic representation of the universe in the Kani.
Rice taken as two portions - husked and un-husked - mixed with turmeric, which would in turn look golden in colour with the yellow hue of turmeric depicting prosperity and long life.
Traditional cloth, Kindi, Valkkannadi
A gold laced traditional dhoti is pleated like a hand-fan and kept on top of a highly polished brass 'kindi', which is a puja vessel used for pouring holy water. The valkannadi- a special mirror made from polished bell metal with thin long handle, is also inserted into the kindi with it's face up. The valkannadi is decorated with gold ornaments in some areas .This together is placed on top of the rice symbolising the presence of goddess or Bhagavathi in the Kani. Seeing the reflection of oneself in the mirror is a custom that provides a glimpse into one's true self and character.
The two equal halves of a split coconut would be used as two lamps or diyas with cloth wicks, and will be placed side by side inside the uruli. The lighting of the lamp represents the acceptance of God or spiritual knowledge into our lives thereby removing the darkness of ignorance from inside us.
Gold is an essential part of the Vishukkani. The gold coins used are the symbolic representation of the cultural, spiritual, and monetary wealth. The distribution of coins to younger ones imparts the value of sharing.
Kanikonna or Cassia Fistula, the golden-yellow flower, which forms an indispensable part of the Vishukkani, blooms only when the sun is in its peak position in the sky. These magnificent flowers represent the Sun himself who forms the eyes of Lord Vishnu.
The Vishukkani will also comprise of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, pineapple, jackfruit, mango, golden cucumber, pumpkin, etc. that are harvested from the fields during the season, symbolising the merits of hardwork throughout the year.
A holy book, such as the Bhagavad-Gita or Ramayana that represents the eternal, non-perishable wisdom as well as the symbol of knowledge in itself is also placed as part of the Vishukkani arrangement.
(The author is the Chairperson CSA, Sr Director FWO, Director TGL & Editor, AT - The International Journal)