We are celebrating Vishu today which is the beginning of a New Year observed by all Malayalees & Palakkad Tamils. Honestly, as kids, my brother & I never understood the meaning of Vishu or the significance of seeing the Vishu-kani first thing in the morning. But the part we loved the most about this function was the vishu-kaineetam. ;p
Before I keep throwing some more regional words, let me get back to the basics.
The lucky sight/gift or Vishu-kani as it is called, is the first sight to be seen on Vishu which is considered auspicious. It mainly comprises of an arrangement (in front of God or your house temple) of different varieties of vegetables, fruits, some gold ornaments, lamps, wicks, a huge mirror, lots of flowers, a bowl of water & a bowl of currency - notes/coins. This has to be prepared the earlier night itself so that when you open your eyes on Vishu, this is your first sight of the year.
Vegetables like bitter gourd, snake gourds, fruits like grapes, bananas, apples, oranges, jackfruit or mangoes, flowers primarily yellow laburnum, some gold ornaments like a necklace, bangles, other miscellaneous items like peppercorns (spice) , lentils (dal) are placed in each half of a coconut mounted on a plate. A big mirror is kept adjacent to the arrangement so as to see the entire sight through it.
Vishu-kaineetam is the custom where all elders in the house have to gift money to all young family members and I mean it; you cannot to choose to skip giving away money to some people. 'Kaineetam' roughly translated as pocket money ranges from as low as Re 1 to a very generous Rs. 500 or even more :)
Usually the eldest family member in the household is the most unfortunate in these cases as there is no one to give him / her money in return. Its a time to collect money & spend that earned amount for goodies, chocolates or anything you want. Mom dad cant ask you to give them the money for household expenses as YOU have rightfully earned it by doing namaskaram (the full obseisance posture by boys & the partial posture done by girls) to all the elders in the family.
Getting this pocket money on Vishu has always remained a treat for my sibling & me to compete & see who makes the most money. :)
A feast (with exquisite curries, raitas) is served at lunchtime. This has to be a combination of sweet, salty, sour & spicy food. Traditional attires are brought out of the wardrobe to be flaunted in all finery. I really saw a lot of heads turning in office today as I was in a traditional Malayalee set saree & all others in the campus were in Friday casuals.
Time to go & gorge on some mouth-watering payasum (kheer) for now....
Here's wishing everyone a very Happy Vishu!
Ciao ... :)