A closed door Vishu for Keralites
Thiruvananthapuram: For the Hindus in Kerala, this day is Vishu -- the traditional New Year which begins from Tuesday, is believed to signal the arrival of good luck and fortune for the coming year.
But, never has such a Vishu been ever celebrated. In these corona times, the essence of Vishu, achieves more significance, as everyone is waiting for the arrival of good luck and fortune.
On any normal Vishu day, the devout Hindus, would make a bee line to their favourite temples, but due to the nationwide lockdown to curb coronavirus spread, even the famed temples like Sabarimala and Guruvayoor Sree Krishna temple are closed for devotees, with only the rituals being done behind closed doors.
The most important Vishu event takes place in one's own homes. The day begins with the 'Vishukani darshan' (auspicious sight of their favourite deity, the arrangement for which is done by the womenfolk on the previous night in their "puja" rooms).
The puja room is decked up and in a special vessel (urali) fresh farm produces, which includes cucumber, pumpkin, coconut, plantains, mangoes, pineapples, rice, grains are neatly arranged and kept in front of their favourite deities.
However, a must for the puja are the bright yellow konna flowers (cassia fistula) -- also known as the Golden Shower Tree. These are in neatly displayed in the worship rooms in all homes.
The first thing that happens early morning is when elders in the house after having their darshan of their deity and urali, then wake up others in the house and after closing their eyes, each one of them is lead into the worship room to have the first darshan, which is often referred to as 'vishukani'.
Another important event of the day is the giving away of 'vishukaineetam' (a gift) and it is mostly given in coins.
The custom is the head of the household gives away coins to other members and there are some who are particular to get theirs from those people who are considered as lucky charms. But this time with the lockdown, the practice of collecting 'vishukaineetam' from outside one's home is ruled out.
Lockdown or no lockdown, there is no change in the major meal of the day, when the entire household getting ready for the eating of the traditional Vishu lunch, which is, Kerala's time tested and most sought after 26-course vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf.
Here, the only difference, is while in the southern and central districts of the state, this is a pure vegetarian meal, but in northern districts the lunch consists of non vegetarian dishes also.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to his Twitter handle and wrote, "Happy Vishu to everyone! A new year brings new hope and new energy. May the coming year bring good health and well-being in everyone's lives,".
The Hindu's constitute more than 50 per cent of the of the 33 million Kerala population.