Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala and as Bisu in the Karnataka region(Mangalore & Udupi districts), usually in the second week of April in the Gregorian calendar. It is a day to pay homeage to Lord Krishna for all the blessings.
Vishu is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala.It is considered a festival of light and fireworks, and decorating lights and bursting of firecrackers (Vishupadakkam) is part of the celebration. Other elements of Vishu include buying of new clothes (Puthukodi) for the occasion, the tradition of giving money called Vishukkaineetam , and the Vishu feast or Sadya, which consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam, Mampazhappulissery, Vishu kanji and Vishu katta .
I got a chance to celebrate Vishu with my very close friend Shalini Nair and it was an unique experience.
The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani, which literally means “the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up”. The Vishukkani consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles intended to signify prosperity, including rice, fruits and vegetables, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers called konna (Cassia fistula), holy texts and coins, usually in the prayer room of the house. This is arranged the night before Vishu and is the first sight seen on Vishu. On Vishu, devotees often visit temples like Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple to have a ‘Vishukkani Kazhcha’ (viewing) in the early hours of the day.
The Vishu Sadhya (feast) is a major part of all Kerala festivals. People are seated cross-legged on the floor on a mat. All the dishes are served on the leaf and eaten with the hands without using any cutlery.
Sambar : Thick gravy made of lentils, vegetables like drumsticks, tomato, etc.,
Rasam : A watery dish made of tamarind, tomatoes, and spices like black pepperhing,. It is very spicy in taste and aids in digestion.
Aviyal : Thick mixture of various vegetables, coconut and curd/yogurt. It is seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. This dish is usually made of leftover vegetables
Kaalan: Made of yogurt, coconut, and any one vegetable like plantain or a yam. It is very thick and sourer. It made a day before .
Koottukari : One or two vegetables like banana,yam and coconut with a hot and sweet taste.
Pachadi : Made of yogurt and cucumber in raw or cooked form
Pulliyinchi : A dish of paste like consistency made of ginger, tamarind, green chilies, and jaggery.
Thoran : A dish of sauté vegetables with grated coconut..
Pickles (Achar) : Spicy pickled raw mango/lemon/lime,etc.
Payasam: A sweet dish with Dal ,rice,ripe banana etc.
Kayavaruthathu/Sharkkara Varatti: Fried banana dish,sharkkara varatti is fried banana with jaggery.
This year I had the Vishu Sadhya at Kamakshi’s Kitchen in San Carlos…The menu was:
Idichakka thoran (tender Jack fruit)*
Curd rice w pickles