WHY DO WE CELEBRATE VISHU?
14th April 2017 is the holy festival "Vishu" of Kerala; All the Indian festivals are sacred and demonstrate great ideals. Kerala has two main festivals namely Onam and Vishu, both of which are related to agriculture. This festival is celebrated by Hindus, unlike Onam which is celebrated by all religions of Kerala. While the festival of Onam represents harvest, Vishu represents symbolically the onset (represents tilling i.e Preparing the land for crops). Vishu is the 'hope' about the 'anticipated abundance' of the morrow .The smell of a special flower called 'kanikonna' (Cassia fistula) which blooms only around this time is enough for people to realize that Vishu is around the corner. Some of the main features of Vishu are Vishukkani, vishukkaineetam, vishu sadhya etc. But there is a widespread misconception that Vishu is the harbinger of the Kerala New Year. Some parts of Kerala say Vishu is New Year, but some will not agree it because they say chingam 1 is the New Year.
My Amma used to say that the celebration of vishu of her childhood days are different from the present celebrations.Vishu represents symbolically the onset and Onam the finale of the major harvest season of the agriculture. On the day of Vishu, what we see is the cautious first step of the journey towards that success. Vishu is the 'hope' about the 'anticipated abundance' of the morrow and Onam is the overwhelming realisation of that collective dream. On the day of Vishu, what we see is the cautious first step of the journey towards that success. On that day, the granaries of paddy are not overflowing. The strategy containing in the message Vishu is to deploy the available resources intelligently and efficiently so that the success of the ensuing harvest is built in from the beginning itself. Therefore Vishu celebrations are bereft of any kind of flamboyance. There is no grand feast on that day, but a simple and traditional food of a typical cultivator – 'Kanji' and 'thoran' (rice cooked without the water drained off and a conventional vegetable dish popular in Kerala). Onam declares "enjoy, be happy today", and Vishu counsels, "work towards a prosperous tomorrow".
There is a migratory bird which normally visits Kerala during this time and is referred to as Vishu Pakshi (Pakshi means bird). Vishu has immense significance astrologically as the day and night are of equal duration. Major periodicals in Malayalam carry Vishubhalam (astrological predictions) for the next one year. Preparations for the agricultural season also begin on the Vishu day.The paddy fields by ploughing was done on the day of Vishu, the sowing was carried out on the 'pathamudayam' meaning the tenth day of Vishu. Even now, in many parts of Kerala, on 'pathamudayam', people perform 'Adithya Pooja' (sun worship) and 'Noorum Paalum' (an offering consisting of rice floor, turmeric powder and milk) to please Serpent gods.
"Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions"
Miss.Shaija Vallikatri Bhaskaran
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