Thursday, April 12, 2012

"VISHU"

Vishu is a very important festival of Kerala which is celebrated with  joyous enthusiasm all over the state
by the Hindus.In olden days it marked the new year but the Malayalam Calendar now followed in Kerala
known as 'Kolla Varsham' starts with the month Chingam which falls in August.Anyhow now a days also people consider this as the beginning of a new year and as a new start for every thing.Indians believes that  a good
start for all good things in life is essential  and this new year is started with a pleasant viewing  of pleasing things including
God's image,Ghee lamp,flowers, fruits,Gold,Silver,coins,etc.
The transit of Sun in to the first Zodiac sign which is known as 'Medam Raasi'( in Malayalam) is celebrated as
Vishu.By the word 'Vishu' which is in  Sanskrit means equal.In the olden days  on 'Vishu',  "day and night" was of equal
time.(But the variations happened through centuries and not  equal at present)The Sun rises exactly on the center part of east on this day(Not any deviation to north or south).
As in any other  Hindu  festivals there are some  myths  about Vishu also  such that  according to one belief on this day was the demon "Narakasura' was killed by
Sree Krishna and Vishu is celebrated because of that.There is another version that Ravana was not allowing
the Sun to rise exactly on  the east but in a deviated position only in his life time.The day next to Ravana's death Sun
could rise exactly on the eastern horizon  and that day denotes Vishu.
When was Vishu started can not be predicted.From the time of Lord Sree Krishna itself it was celebrated.(which means before 5000 years itself)
In the 'Purana Manjari' stories it is mentioned that 'Sathya Bhama' who was one spouse of Krishna used to
arrange for 'Kani Darshan'(Seeing the auspicious items after waking up on Vishu day).Krishna asked 'Rukmini' his other
wife why she was not interested to do that arrangements.Rukmini who loved Krishna more than Sathya Bhama replied that what ever items were arranged there she could see only 'Sree Krisha' in all of them and so
she was not bothered about the items Sathya Bhama arranged.
In another story it is stated that the yellow flower which is used for Vishu 'Konna Flower' (Casia fistula) was
white in color.Once Devi Parvathy visited the house of 'Kasyapa Prajapathy' and his wife a very beautiful woman   was busy for the arrangement for the next day's Vishu.Devi Parvathy also accompanied her for plucking 'Konna Flowers' and
seeing the  extreme beauty of both of  them the eyes of 'Konna Flowers' turned yellow and from then on Konna flowers are yellow in color.We can understand that such stories are imaginary made up stories but Vishu
is celebrated in Kerala from very ancient period is a truth.
On the previous night of Vishu day, the Pooja room is cleaned, new silk cloth spread for keeping the photos
of Gods.A picture or Statue (Idol) of Bala Gopala(Young Sree Krishna) is placed on a stand.An Oil lamp
(Nila Vilakku) is placed in front of that.Three oil lamps will be much more better.In a bell metal vessel known as 'Uruli' is placed raw rice,mango,jack fruit,ripe yellow color bananas,yellow or orange color cucumber,cashew fruit with the nut on it,apple,orange,grapes,etc are kept.A coconut cut in to two halves
are also placed in it.In the coconut halves by adding ghee and putting wicks it can be burned as lamps also.




New silk cloth, washed white Dhoti etc are placed  on a clean plate.A holy book either 'Bhagavat Gita or Bhagavatham is also placed. A small brass pot heaped with  rice is also kept.In another vessel or plate gold coins,silver coins (or gold ornaments) and coins to distribute to the members of the family and others are kept.A long tailed mirror known as 'Val Kannadi',Bindi,eyeliner paste,a grass item known as
'Karuka',peacock feather etc are arranged and all over it is spread 'Konna Flowers'(Casia fistua).Another mirror  is also placed there.(This is to remind us that we should understand that 'God is there in us as well as others also')The eldest
of the female in the family gets up early in the morning around 4 or 4.30 and lights up the lamps and see
the 'Kani Darsanam' first.She leads and  brings the other members of the family one by one to the pooja room for
the kani darshanam.They opens their eyes after reaching the pooja room only.The older people and sick
people are shown the 'Uruli' by taking it to them.The cows in the family are also shown the 'kani' by taking the uruli to their shed.
The elders distribute  coins to the youngsters after the kani darshan.Many people keep that coins for the
next one year as an auspicious item.
On the Vishu day we revere God Krishna mainly but by keeping the long tailed mirror we denote Devi
Parvathi, the Goddess of Sakthi(energy and power),by placing gold,silver and coins we denote Goddess
Lakshmi Devi  of wealth and prosperity, by placing the holy book we denote Saraswathi Devi, Goddess
of Wisdom and knowledge.The lamp light removes the ignorance and fills our minds and life with brightness.We wish and hope with prayers for the next year to be blessed with Health,Wealth,Happiness
and all kinds of splendid prosperity in all aspects.
On the previous evening and early morning of Vishu children lights crackers and fireworks.Sweets and feast
as usual in other festivals are also made for Vishu.
At Guruvayoor temple,Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple,Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa temple,Mookambika
temple etc thousands of devotees reach and wait from the previous day itself for 'Kani Darsanam' and
for getting 'Vishu Kaineetam'(the coin received from priest of the temples) which they keep as precious for
the next one year which will bring good fortune.
In almost all other states of India this day is auspicious as a festival day.In Tamil Nadu it is new year day,in Karnataka and Andhra it is celebrated as 'Ugadhi', in Maharashtra it is 'Gadi Padwa' it is 'Bihu' in Assam and 'Baisakhi' in Punjab and so on.
This year Vishu Festival is on 14 April 2012.

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