Among the most important festivals in the state of Kerala, the Malayalam New Year or Vishu falls on the first day of the month of Medam as per the Malayalam Calendar. The festival generally falls somewhere in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar. This year it will be celebrated on April 14. After the state’s harvest festival, Onam, Vishu is a day celebrated with zest in Kerala. Extravagant feast, new clothes and prayers are a part of the core celebrations in the state.
Vishu signifies that one is required to begin right which would then lead to the whole year being right. So what we perceive on the very 1st day of the New Year should be auspicious and pure and must symbolize good fortune and abundance. Hence on the day of Malayalam New Year, there is a custom among the people to open their eyes to Vishukkani, that which is worshipped and that which is the 1st thing to be seen on the occasion of Vishu. The preparations for the Malayalam New Year or Vishu start well in advance. The houses are cleaned and often painted or whitewashed to make it pure. The pooja rooms were the ritualistic presentations would be made are cleaned with the picture Gods adorned with the Chandan and Kumkum.
The prayer room is decorated with a lit lamp, golden shower flowers (yellow flowers), fruits, vegetables, betel leaves, an assortment of rice, mirror, money and gold arranged in a metal plate with the idol of Lord Krishna. People pray to Lord Krishna on the New Year’s Day and follow the traditional custom of witnessing Lord Krishna’s idol as first thing in the morning.
After the Vishukani custom, people go on to take a bath in the sacred water and offer prayers at the nearby temples. The people in Kerala put on their outfit called Kodi Vastram for celebrating Pooram Vishu. Kodi Vastram is new clothes that are specially worn during any auspicious occasion. Dancing and singing forms a part of the Malayalam New Year Celebration. Sadya or feast is prepared by women on this special occasion. The special dishes include mangoes, jackfruits, pumpkins and gourds. A dish called Moru Kutan made of Payasam (Kheer), yoghurt, Veppampoorasam (a bitter neem preparation) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour soup of mango) is prepared on the special occasion of the Malayalam New Year.