Monday, April 16, 2007

My first Vishu

Saturday, 14th April marked the new year for Nepalese (Naya Barsha - Bikram Sambat 2064), Malayalis (Vishu), Punjabis (Vaishakhi), Tamils (Puthandu), Bengalis (Naba Barsha) and Assamese (Bihu).
I don't remember us doing anything special for the Nepali New Year, but Malayalis all over the world celebrate Vishu in a very special way, regardless of what religion they belong to.

A special arrangement of offerings called the Vishu Kani is set up. This arrangement consists of raw rice, betel leaves (paan leaves), betel nut (supari), silk, fruits like banana, golden cucumber, coconuts, a metal mirror called Aranmula kannadi, yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), diyas and coins and gold jewelry denoting signs of prosperity. The Vishu Kani is set up the night before Vishu, usually by the mother of the house. On Vishu, before sunrise, the mother wakes up the members of the house, one by one, and takes them to the puja room with their eyes closed so that the first thing that they see in the beginning of the new year is the Vishu Kani. It is believed that the fortunes of the year depend on the objects one sees first on Vishu.

V often reminisces about the days back home when they used to celebrate Vishu and how his mom used to wake him up early in the morning, close his eyes and take him to the Vishu Kani and how beautiful the kani used to look with the golden colors from the fruits and flowers and the jewelry enhanced by the luminous light from the diyas and reflected on the mirror.

So, hoping to make this special for him, I decided to set up the kani myself and give him and my friend SR (who also celebrates Vishu) a nice surprise. Unfortunately, there was no way I could buy those stuff without SR knowing, so I had to let him know of my plan. It proved well that I told him, because he gave me guidance on how to set it up properly. So Friday evening we bought the required items before V arrival from Stamford. However, it seems this year, even though the new year fell on the 14th, Vishu was to be celebrated on 15th. So Saturday night, after V went off to sleep, me and SR set up the kani. We didn't have the traditional items like the brass vessel uruli, so we made use of a steel one. Neither did we have a metal mirror, so we replaced it with a regular mirror. Same way we replaced the special yellow konna flower with some other yellow flower we got from the farmer's market. Unfortunately, we didn't get to buy bananas, so we managed with guavas and mangoes. To make up for the lack of other things, we had lots of diyas.

The next day I set up the alarm for 5:00 am. When the alarm set off, I almost dozed back to sleep after switching it off. Luckily I just remembered why I had set the alarm in the first place, and so I got up. I then lit up the diyas. Unfortunately, one of the candle diyas we had got from the desi store made quite a flame and the newspaper under it caught fire. I hurriedly blew it off but not before the carpet got singed :(. I then woke up V, closed his eyes and took him to the kani. My, was he surprised !!! :) He was so happy!! We then woke up SR and did the same. We took a few pics and after a while headed back to sleep since we all had just about 2 hrs of sleep.

Here are some of the pics from our Vishu Kani

Our humble Vishu Kani

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!


Ricky said...

Happy Vishu !!

What a beautiful gesture on your part. I am sure it must have been very special for V. Nice to know about the new custom.

We never celebrated Vaisakhi but used to goto Gurudware, which I went this year after my last exam. The langar was yummylicious.

LOL @ your fire incident, why does it always happen with

Happy Bikram Sambat too :)

Mehak said...

Happy Vishu!!!

WOW....really romantic...sachi mein...:)

The 3rd pic is FAB!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey thats so lovely Colors! :)

hey, I would like to write an email to you; can you please share your email id with me?


Juneli said...

Here I'm wishing you & V in three languages :)

Happy Vishu.

Naya Barsh ko Shubhkamana

Nhu dayan Bhintuna

so South India also have importance of a metal mirror called Aranmula kannadi and you know we, Newar also have importance of it. We called it jal-nhyank :).

You have noticed or not there are many more similarities between South Indian culture and Newar culture and food too :)

It's really lovely posts.

Colors said...

Hey Ricky, thanks! Yeah it was special for him, he enjoyed it a lot :)
I have never been to a gurudware or had a langar :( Have heard so much about it. When r u taking me there?

Sigh! I know! Nothing ever happens to me without any incident, which eventually makes you laugh :(
Well, I guess if someone is getting a good laugh out of it, its worth :)

Colors said...

Thanks Mehak :D

Thankoo Moonie :)
If I am not mistaken, we have corresponded via email long time ago. I'd love to hear from you...will send u my id separately

Colors said...

Hi Juneli
- Thank you
- Dhanyabad
- Su Bhay (is that correct? I googled it!!)

But of course! I hadnt even thought about jal-nhyaka!! Thanks for reminding.

You are right, there are a lot of similarities. Me and V often have fights regarding who copied a custom from whom :)

Tell you what, find the wikipedia article on "Nair" and read the 2nd para under 'Origins and History'. I'm sure you're in for a surprise!! :D

Ricky said...

Whenever we meet, a trip to Gurudware is guranteed with the langar on

When are you making us laugh again? :P

Anonymous said...

Ajhai pani Vishu nai manai rahechau?

or .. :(

Yes, But I had heard that Nair people came to Nepal and became Naya: or Nya: :)

for food I want to give some expamples

Chatamari = dosa
bara/ wa = bara
aloo tama (mouth watering) = saambhar
Idlee = lhoch-mari

And south people use dahi a lot like we Newar

But the one thing is nat match with most southie is Newar are non-veg.


Deepak Jeswal said...

(Belated) Happy Vishu and Happy Nab Barasha :)

This was really a great surprise you gave V. I am sure he must be mighty proud of you.

Anonymous said...

You are tagged :P

Moonie said...

Its May Colors :) when will be the NEXT post??!!!

Colors said...

Hey Juneli, sorry was really busy so got stuck in time :)

I dunno whats lhoch mari :(

Yeah, south Indians are vegetarians, but most of them are Tamilians. Malyalis are mostly non-veg. Even the cooking style used by Nairs are similar to ours.

Tagged again!!! :(

Colors said...

Hey DJ, thanks! Yeah he was very happy. He even showed the pics to his parents :D

Hey Moonie, :) I've explained it all in my new post

drama queen said...

Hi Colors,

that was actually very sweet and thoughtful of you to do that for V, i was actually google searching for referal picture to mail to my Brother and sis in law in the US cos they wanted to set a Vishu kani, and i really liked what you had done so i mailed thm the picture.. Hope you dont mind.

thanks to ur replacement opts, i can suggest the same to my bro :D

thx, luv sruthi.

Colors said...

Hi Sruthi,

Happy Vishu! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. As for using my pic, far from minding, I am honored. I hope ur brother found it helpful!

This year too, me and V set up kani for vishu and I have posted the pic can check it out at

Thanks again! - Colors