14 Apr 2009,
PUNE: The four-lakh strong Malayali population in the city is all set to celebrate Vishu, the harvest festival which also marks the new year, on Tuesday.
Vishu falls on the same date (April 14) almost every year and marks the first day of the Medam month.
"The day begins with the family members looking at the kani' (also called the Vishukani'), which is a sight that will ensure that the rest of the year is prosperous. Another much-loved ritual is the Vishu kaineetam'. After the pooja in the morning, older members of the family give a token amount of money to the youngsters. It used to be only coins earlier but now it includes notes as well," smiles B Madhu Nair, president of the Pune Malayalee Samajam, the oldest Malayali association in the city.
The vishukani' is an arrangement of auspicious articles including raw rice, betel leaves, areca nut, linen, a golden cucumber, a metallic mirror, the golden shower flowers ( kanikonna' in Malayalam or bahava' in Marathi), a holy text and coins in a bell metal vessel called the uruli'. A lit nilavilakku' (a bell metal lamp) flanks the arrangement. An elder, usually the mother, takes the rest of the family blindfolded or with their eyes closed to see the kani'.
"We also have the usual sadhya' (feast) like it is with Onam, with a number of dishes including avial' (a dish made from mixed vegetables), sambar' and payasam' (the sweet part of the meal made of milk or jaggery), amongst others," says Sarasamma Vijaykumar, a retired professional from Kalyaninagar. For software professional Arun Nambiar, celebrating the festival in Kerala would have meant bursting crackers too. "But I will make it a point to stay home for lunch," he laughs.