Vishu 2022: how the traditional Indian festival is celebrated and what it means

The festival is marked on April 15, and signals the start of Malayali New Year

Flowers of the golden shower tree (Cassia fistula) and jackfruit are sold on the eve of Vishu festival in Kochi, Kerala state, India. AP Photo
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The Hindu festival Vishu will be celebrated in parts of India and the world on Friday, marking the first day of Medam, the ninth month of the solar calendar followed in Kerala.

The festival is observed by Malayalis, people originating from the state of Kerala, as well as the Tuluva people in southern India, and falls on either April 14 or 15 each year.

It has been celebrated since 844 AD, during the time of ruler Sthanu Ravi Varma.

The spiritual meaning of Vishu

Marking the start of the Malayali New Year, Vishu signifies new beginnings, hopes and aspirations for the year ahead.

People spend the day sending prayers and well-wishes to their loved ones for prosperity and health.

How is Vishu celebrated?

On the day of Vishu, people usually wake up early in the morning, and bathe, before sitting down to pray.

People then view the Vishu kani, which is an assortment of items arranged together, believed to bring good luck for the year ahead when they are the first things viewed on the day of Vishu.

The Vishu kani is usually set up by family elders the night before the festival or very early on the morning of.

Traditionally, a Vishu kani consists of cucumber, rice, areca nuts, betel leaves, gold ornaments, new clothes, coins, mangoes, jackfruit, a metal mirror, and a lemon, along with a lit metal lamp.

Each member of the family should then look at all of these items before they begin their day.

A special feast, called the sadhya, is then traditionally prepared and eaten in Malayali households. The meal, enjoyed together by families, consists of rice, sambar, chips, pickle, aviyal, rasam, and different types of sweets and payasams.

People also usually buy new clothes to wear during Vishu, which they will usually debut during a trip to their local temple.

Updated: April 15, 2022, 4:16 AM