The Malayalam New Year or ‘Vishu was celebrated across Kerala on Monday with enthusiasm. The New Year festival also marks the spring equinox.
The day was celebrated with much gusto and aplomb and is observed on the first day of the month called Medam.
Ahead of the main festival, women in the Hindu households prepare the 'Vishukani darshan' the previous night, which is a traditional arrangement of fruits and vegetables which is to be viewed as the first thing in the morning.
The elders are the first ones to view the ‘Vishukani’, after which they wake up the rest of the people in the house, who are brought for the ‘darshan’ with closed eyes.
A special vessel, called the ‘urali’ that consists of fresh produces including cucumber, pumpkin, coconut, plantains, mangos, pineapples, rice, grains and the areca nut is kept in front of the idols.
Another important event of the day is the giving away of 'vishukaineetam' (gift), which mostly consists of coins.
Devotees offer prayers to Lord Krishna and visit temples such as Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple, Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple or Kulathupuzha Sree BaalaShastha Temple. Friends and family members come together to celebrate the day.
The traditional Vishu lunch, which is a 26-course vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf, is an important part of the festival.
In the southern and central districts of the state, this is a purely vegetarian meal, but in the northern districts, the lunch consists of non-vegetarian items also.
Hindus constitute more than 50 per cent of the 33 million Kerala population.
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