Sunday, April 17, 2011

Golden dawns and yellow flowers.......

The previous night would be exciting for everyone except my mother! She had a long night ahead, and she would do all she could to coax us into bed as soon as possible; for the real work could start only after the kids were tucked in bed! All we knew that we were woken up in the morning by her, with a palm held over our eyes, and her whispering into our ears, "Don't open your eyes... today you have to see the 'kani'... the best will happen for the whole year round." This was to make sure we did not open our eyes by mistake and see the mundane before we did the divine; and hence we would be accompanied by all the same sights all year round. Thinking back now, maybe it would have been a good idea to have seen her excited, happy face as part of the kani as well!

She would then lead us into the beautifully laid out pooja room. There would be the familiar idols of all her 'ishta devtas' and of course, the hero of the evening - Lord Krishna. There would be a gleaming brass lamp, which she would have scrubbed for hours to make it shine. There would also be a colorful array of vegetables and fruits. I remember some of them : Bananas, pineapples, mangoes (ripe and raw), melons, tomatoes and squash (a special variety called Velerikka). There would also be bright yellow flowers called 'konna' which, along with the diyas, brought a divine glow to the whole room.

Gold and silver, a mirror, coconut, raw rice and other items indispensable to a Malayali lifestyle are laid out. Mom would explain the significance of each item. I remember most of them, but the most profound is perhaps the mirror. The mirror of course reflects the light of the lamp and brightens up the entire room. But the real significance is that it shows us our own happy, excited faces in the kani. It also signifies the importance of understanding that the goodness of the Almighty exists in all of us - we just need to bring out that existence in our actions. Me and my sister would then sit on the floor with folded hands, taking in the beauty in front of us, under the watchful and contended gaze of Dad and Mom. What went through their minds at that time, is something I only understand now, after taking on the role of a mother myself.

This was followed by the 'kaineettam' - where elders gave younger relations money. In a time when pocket money was not a trend, this money came as a very exciting proposition to young kids. Many of us made quite an earning each year on that day. Then we would bring out the fire crackers - literally!

The Vishu Sadya (traditional feast) is something that still makes me weak in the knees (this year my sister is attempting a home run in this formidable feat!!)..... it consisted of a million dishes, and there have been instances when the entire menu had not even been tasted for want of space in our little tummies. Mom would hover around us while we ate, carefully watching out for replenishment on anyone's plate.....

 As we grew older, our involvement was extended into choosing the perfect fruits and vegetables, arranging the flowers and the kani with Mom. The feeling was always that of anticipation - listening to all of Mom's little anecdotes and explanations while we were at it. Such immense pleasure in simple things of life is such a rare treat now!

To all of you - my most cherished thoughts for Vishu is the message of the mirror - May your lives shine with the light of a million lamps, may you have 'mirrors' to tell you the unadulterated truth, and may the Almighty reside within you! Happy Vishu !!


  1. Very niece. Happy Vishu :) Sorry I am late.

  2. Nice to know the significance and rituals of this festival ...hope you had an enjoyable Vishu.

  3. @A, thank you for your wishes!! Vishu is a festival very close to my heart!

  4. @Shobha... yes, thank you very much for the wishes! I did have a good time. This is a keralite festival - its the new year.

  5. sorry for late wishes ... Hope you had a great time .. and thanks for sharing the rituals its strange India being such a big country we in each part alsmot have same festivals for the same rreason and they are al lcalled different names ...


  6. @Bikram .. thanks for the wishes! yeah u're right - its like baisakhi in Punjab, but we call it differently.

  7. Its so true meena, when we arrange things for Kani for our kids, we feel we are still under the shadows of our parents by remembering how we used to help our mom and wht went on in their minds..
    Its a pleasure to get connected during festivities

  8. @ jo .... how true.. "shadows of our parents" is so right!! thank you for reading!