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Vishu Kani foods.jpg
A traditional Vishu kani setting with auspicious items.
Official nameVishu
Observed byMalayalis and Tuluvas
ObservancesVishu Kani, Vishukkaineetam, Vishukkanji, Kani konna, Vishupadakkam (fireworks)
Endsafter 24 hours
2019 dateMon, 15 April
Related toBihu, Bwisagu, Baisakhi, Pohela Boishakh, Puthandu, Pana Sankranti

Vishu (Malayalam: Viṣu, Tulu: Bisu) is an Indian festival natively celebrated in one of the Indian state Kerala, Mangalore and Tulu Nadu, coastal Kanyakumari nearby regions and their diaspora communities.[1][2][3] The festival follows the solar cycle of the lunisolar as the first day of month called Medam.[4] It therefore always falls in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar on or about 14 April every year.[5][6][7][8]

Vishu (from Sanskrit-Malayalam Vishuva) literally means equal, [9] and in the festival context it connotes the completion of spring equinox.[4] The festival is notable for its solemnity and the general lack of pomp [4][10] The festival is marked by family time, preparing colorful auspicious items and viewing these as the first thing on the Vishu day. In particular, Malayali seek to view the golden blossoms of the Indian laburnum (Kani Konna), money or silver items (Vishukkaineetam), and rice.[4][10][11] The day also attracts firework play by children,[4][12] wearing new clothes (Puthukodi) and the eating a special meal called Sadhya, which is a mix of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items.[11] ithe vishu is celebrated by giving money [ kai neetam] , it is a blessing from the family by exchanging the money.

The Vishu arrangement typically includes an image of Vishnu, typically in the form of Krishna. People also visit temples like Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple or Kulathupuzha Sree BaalaShastha Temple to have a 'Vishukkani Kazhcha' (viewing) in the early hours of the day.[13]


The day of Vishu in the Malayali tradition signifies the sun's transit into the Meda Raasi (first solar month).[4][14]


A traditional Vishu arrangement that is viewed first on the new year day.


The Malayalam word "kani" literally means "that which is seen first", so "Vishukkani" means "that which is seen first on Vishu". The traditional belief is that one's future is a function of what one experiences, that the new year will be better if one views auspicious joyful things as the first thing on Vishu. Therefore, Malayali Hindu women spend the day before preparing a setting, usually a tray, of auspicious items. This setting is the first thing they see when they wake up on the Vishu day.[10][13]

The Vishukkani setting consists of items such as[11] rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, coconut cut open, jack fruit, kanmashi Kajal, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror (Vaalkannadi), golden yellow Konna flowers (Cassia fistula) which bloom in the season of Vishu, holy Hindu texts, coins or currency notes, oil lamp (nilavilakku), and an image of the Hindu god Vishnu.[10] Mirror in Vishukani is a symbol of seeing yourself as a part of abundance you see in the form of Kani.

The tradition has been that one of the members of the house, typically the mom or elderly person lights up the lamps at dawn, then goes to each member of her family one by one, blindfolds and wakes each one up, walks them to the front of the setting. She then releases the blindfold so one can see the setting, and then greets the Vishu day.[10][13]

Vishu Sadhya

Vishu Sadhya served in 2013.

The Sadhya (feast) is a major part of all Kerala festivals. However, special dishes called Vishu Kanji, Thoran and Vishu katta are more important on the new year day. The Kanji is made of rice, coconut milk and spices. Vishu katta is a delicacy prepared from freshly harvested rice powder and coconut milk served with jaggery.[11] For Thoran, the side dish, there are also mandatory ingredients. Other important Vishu delicacies include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhappulissery (a sour or ripe mango soup)[15] Even temple offerings called bewu bella, include a mix of sweet jaggery, bitter neem, and other flavors.[10]

The mixing of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and astringent flavors for the new year Vishu meal is similar to the pacchadi food prepared on new year day such as Ugadi by Hindus in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the Indian subcontinent. These traditional festive recipes, that combine different flavors, are a symbolic reminder that one must expect all flavors of experiences in the coming new year, that no event or episode is wholly sweet or bitter, experiences are transitory and ephemeral, and to make the most from them.[16]


(Cassia fistula), കണിക്കൊന്ന, Golden Shower Tree

Konna (Cassia fistula), commonly known as golden shower is the flower of the Vishu festival.

Other customs

A child playing with fireworks on Vishu

The tradition of buying of new clothes for the occasion of Vishu is called Puthukodi or Vishukodi. There is also a popular tradition of elders giving money to younger ones or dependents of the family. This is called Vishukkaineetam.[11][12] Another tradition is of giving alms and contributing to community charity.[17] Children enjoy setting off firecrackers.[11]

Related holidays

The Vishu new year day is celebrated elsewhere but called by other names. It is called Vaisakhi by Hindus and Sikhs in north and central India, which too marks the solar new year, and Tamil New Year day called Puthandu.[18][19][20] The new year day on or next to 14 April every year, is also the new year for many Buddhist communities in parts of southeast Asia such as Myanmar and Cambodia, likely an influence of their shared culture in the 1st millennium CE.[20]

However, this is not the universal new year for all Hindus. For some, such as those in and near Gujarat, the new year festivities coincide with the five day Diwali festival. For many others, the new year falls on Ugadi and Gudi Padwa, which falls a few weeks earlier.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Crump, William D. (2014). Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide. McFarland. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-7864-9545-0.
  2. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 135–137. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  3. ^ Roy, Christian (2005). Traditional Festivals: A Multicultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 479–481. ISBN 978-1-57607-089-5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Major festivals of Kerala, Government of Kerala (2016)
  5. ^ "Major festivals - Vishu". Official Website of Government of Kerala. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  6. ^ Singh, Kumar Suresh (2002). People of India, Volume 27, Part 1. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 479. ISBN 978-81-85938-99-8.
  7. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. p. 633. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.
  8. ^ "2017 Official Central Government Holiday Calendar" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  9. ^ []
  10. ^ a b c d e f Jagannathan, Maithily (2005). South Indian State Festivals and Traditions. Abhinav Publications. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-81-7017-415-8.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "When the Laburnum blooms". The Hindu. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b "City celebrates Vishu". The Hindu. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  13. ^ a b c Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  14. ^ "Vishu was once New Year". The Deccan Chronicle. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Vishu delicacies". The Hindu. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  16. ^ Narayanan, Vasudha (1999). "Y51K and Still Counting: Some Hindu Views of Time". Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies. Butler University. 12 (1): 17–18. doi:10.7825/2164-6279.1205.
  17. ^ Roy, Christian (2005). Traditional Festivals: A Multicultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 479–480. ISBN 978-1-57607-089-5.
  18. ^ "BBC - Religion: Hinduism - Vaisakhi". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  19. ^ Crump, William D. (2014), Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide, MacFarland, page 114
  20. ^ a b c Pechilis, Karen; Raj, Selva J. (2013). South Asian Religions: Tradition and Today. Routledge. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0-415-44851-2.