Vishu Festival, India

The Kerala festival of Vishu, which has been celebrated since the reign of Sthanu Ravi in 844 AD, commemorates the killing of the demon Narakasura by Krishna. Vishu Kani is thus adorned with Krishna idols.

Vishnu is considered by Hindus to be the God of Time, so this festival is dedicated to Vishnu and his many incarnations. It is the sighting of the Vishukkani during dawn during this day that is considered the most important event of the day. In Malayalam, the word 'kani' refers to 'that which is first seen, so 'Vishukkani' refers to 'that which is seen first on Vishu.

In India, Kerala Hindus, Tamil Hindus, Karnataka Hindus, Mahe Hindus of Pondicherry, and Tamil Nadu diaspora communities celebrate the occasion on the first day of the ninth month of the solar calendar, which is Medam as Vishu. It marks the beginning of spring in Kerala and celebrates a bountiful harvest through the spring equinox. There are many festivals in India celebrating the same spirit, including Ugadhi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Bihu in Assam, and Baisakhi in Punjab. On the vernal equinox, there are roughly equal amounts of day and night. In Malayalam, the new year is known as Vishu Kani.

Children are supposed to see abundance when they wake up on this day. This is accomplished by preparing the Vishukkan and blindfolding the children to bring them to the altar to view the decorations and begin the new year on a positive note. It is prepared by Malayali women out of rice, lemon, golden cucumber, jackfruit, kanmash kajal, betel leaves, golden yellow Konna flowers, coins, currency notes, and a picture of Vishnu, the Hindu deity. The first thing family members see when they open their eyes in the morning is this auspicious sight.

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