Malayalam New Year

Vishnu festival or Malayalam New Year falls on the first of Malayalam month of Madam (March-April). A number of rituals and customs are associated with the festival. It's not a pompous festival but more of a homely affair. People of Kerala like to spend it with their family members. Vishukani or Kani Kanal is the most well-liked tradition followed by people of Kerala.

As per the popular belief, year's prosperity depends upon the category of the first object viewed in the morning. There is a list which tells about a variety of auspicious items to be seen on Vishnu morning. Ladies keep all the prescribed items ready a night before the Vishnu. A Cadian leaf book, gold ornaments, a new white cloth, raw rice, yellow cucumber, betel leaves, flowers of the Konna tree, halved jack fruits, holy grantha and coconut are kept in a bell metal vessel called 'uruli'. Behind the vessel is kept a bell metal mirror and a Lord Krishna deity. Two lighted oil lamp called Nilavilakku is also placed flanking.

The head of the family is the first person to see the holy things. Children are brought blindfold. Special care is taken that family members do not see any other thing except Vishukani. Later, Vishukani is offered to God and distributed in the middle of poor. Children and other young members of the family get a small gift on this day and this tradition of gift-giving is called Vishu Kaineetam.

Once the custom of Vishukani gets over, people take a dip in the holy water or take bath at their home and visit nearby temples to present prayers. To celebrate the festival of Pooram Vishnu, people of Kerela wear Kodi Vastram. These are new clothes in particular worn on auspicious occasions. People of Kerela multiply Vishnu celebrations by traditional singing and dancing. They also burst Patassu (firecrackers).