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Vishu

From Academic Kids

Vishu (വിഷൂ) is a festival held in the state of Kerala (and adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu) in India around the first day in the Malayalam month of Medam (MarchApril). Though this is not the New Year's Day in the Malayalam Calendar, people of Kerala consider Vishu the beginning of a new year. This occasion signifies the Sun's transit to the zodiac Mesha Mesha Raasi as per Indian astrological calculations. This day is celebrated in almost all places in India by the Hindus albeit by different names. In Bihar this day is called Bihu, in Punjab Baisakhi and in Tamil Nadu Puthandu.

The festival is marked with offerings to the divine called Vishukkani. The offerings consist of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh linen, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, the yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. This arrangement is completed by women overnight.

It is believed that what you see and experience first on the Vishu day will foretell the whole year's prosperity. Hence people will land their first sight on auspicious materials - the above arrangement.

Vishu is also a day of feasting, wherein the edibles consist of roughly equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include 'Veppampoorasam' (a bitter preparation of neem) and 'Mampazhapachadi' (a sour mango soup).

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