Vishu is the Malayalee New Year and is celebrated on the first day of the Malayalam month in Kerala. The ‘Vishu Kani’ is the most significant aspect of Vishu. The Malayalam word ‘kani’ means “that which is seen first”. It is believed, good things seen on the New Year day brings good luck and prosperity for the whole year.
The ‘Vishu Kani’ is arranged in the hall or puja room the night before, with auspicious items like images of Lord Vishnu, Konnapoo flowers (Cassia Fistula; and if it’s not available, then any variety of yellow flowers), fruits (mango), vegetables (yellow cucumber), clothes (kasavu mundu) and gold coins. In addition to the brass lamp, we also have a coconut that is cut into halves, with oil and wick (made out of cloth) in each half, which is then lit. I use tealight candles and place one each in the coconut halves after lighting them…. an easy way out 😉. All these items are then placed on a tray with rice grains. You will find that the predominant colour in any ‘Vishu Kani’ is yellow.
The Mother of the household lights up the lamps at dawn break, then goes to each family member, waking them up one by one. She would then cover their eyes and guide them to the place where the ‘Vishu Kani’ is arranged, so that the ‘Vishu Kani’ is the first thing they see that morning, on opening their eyes. Children are then given a small amount of cash after that, as it is a belief that it would bring prosperity for all. This tradition is called ‘Vishu Kaineetam’.
The Sadya (feast) is usually served for lunch and that is something everyone looks forward to! It consists of traditional vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf. A typical Sadya can have about 24–28 dishes (including rice, salt, pickles, amongst the other dishes) and the preparations for the Sadya usually start the day before. There is usually an order in serving the dishes on the banana leaf, starting from banana chips and pickles first, on the bottom left-hand corner of the banana leaf, followed by other items on the top, starting from the right-hand corner. However, there are different approaches to serving the dishes in various parts of Kerala and there are variations in the menu too. Some communities, especially those in the northern part of Kerala, include non-vegetarian dishes in the Sadya.
In our household, we normally don’t have an elaborate spread and keep it to the minimum. But this year, we added couple of extra dishes. The dishes cooked are usually based on everyone’s preferences, favourites and who eats what. It does make sense as why prepare a particular dish, if it’s not really enjoyed by all 😊.
This time Mum prepared pickle, injji-thairu, elissery, kalan, aviyal, pachadi, sambar, parippu and the 2 payasams. My sister prepared the stew and thoran, my brother in-law the puli-injji and my brother bought the 2 types of banana chips (salted and sweet). Yours truly did nothing! Having prepared enough and more sadyas in the UAE for both Vishu and Onam, I took the back seat for a change…. 😁.
There are 2 dishes in particular that I would like to blog about and will share the recipes too. They are the ‘puli-injji’, and ‘pachadi’.
Do stay locked…….