(Belated) Happy New Year
I think we can all agree that creating topical and time bound posts is not my forte. I’m always late. I hardly ever have a festival post ready on time. I don’t mean for it to happen that way. I’m great at making resolutions, terrible at following up. Every Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Onam and Vishu, I miss out on a post. And every single time, I resolve to do better next time. And yet, every time, I don’t seem to follow through.
It’s a problem. I’m not sure what to do about it. While I mull over it and figure it out, why don’t you take a look at some pictures from our Vishu lunch. Vishu is the Malayalee New Year and coincides with Baisakhi, Poila Baishakh, Bihu, Pongal and almost all the other kinds of New Year Days celebrated in different states across the country. Vishu falls on 14th April of every year (except last year, when it fell on the 15th).
The most significant ritual on Vishu is the viewing of the Vishukanni, an arrangement of various auspicious items in and around a large uruli, the traditional bell metal vessel. It is usually made of items which are either considered auspicious or represent prosperity and success – fruits & grains (food); traditional Kerala saree or mundu set (clothes); coins, cash and jewellery (wealth); idol of Lord Krishna and holy texts like the Bhagavad Gita and/or the Ramayana. The idea is that on Vishu, the first day of the New Year, the first thing that you see should be this Vishukanni, in the hope that the coming year will be filled with all the elements represented there – good food, clothes, wealth and the lord’s blessings.
This is usually arranged by the eldest lady of the house and she ensures that everyone sees the kanni, first thing in the morning. Usually, there is a designated time around 4-6 am. I’m not a very religious person but this strikes me as a thoughtful ritual – beginning the year on a positive note to ensure the year is full of positive energy, wealth and prosperity. All these years, I haven’t actually put together a kanni but, this year, the enthu bug bit me. On the eve of Vishu, I decided that I wanted to go the whole hog. So I ran around like a headless chicken, trying to find all that I needed for the kanni. Here’s what mine looked like – not the most elaborate of kannis, but not bad for a first attempt!
It had to be put on the dining table because we don’t have a puja room in our house and the living room floor was too dangerous, with Dexter racing about the house.
We woke up to see this, first thing in the morning. I also put a small box of Dexter’s biscuits in the kanni, so he could have a look see and a great year ahead.
We also decided to order in a saadya (traditional vegetarian Kerala feast) for everyone at the studio. We realised that there was a brand new outlet of The Toddy Shop near our home and they were happy to deliver the saadya to us, as long as we gave them notice the night before. So we did. And we were not disappointed. They sent us many of the saadya items, complete with the ella (banana leaf) to serve it on. I was caught up with a few deadlines so I only managed to make a humongous batch of this Raw Mango Pickle and some Rice & Milk Payasam at home, full of cashew nuts and raisins. AK’s favourite 2 items in the saadya!
Before we dug in, I invited everyone upstairs to look at the kanni as well. Oh, another significant and the most fun part of Vishu is that we all get to hold out our palms to the elders – parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse etc – and say “Vishukaineetam”. Upon which the palm has to be rewarded with spending money!
Then there was the food…
There is a particular order in which the various items of the feast are arranged on the ella, which is something that AK’s aunt and cousins always remind me. On this occasion, Vidhi and I consulted youtube!
Poor Dexter felt a little left out, and couldn’t figure out why nobody was giving him anything off the table. He tried his luck every few minutes.
Finally sitting down to a delicious feast…
And polishing off every last morsel…
I know this is way late, but I hope you all have a fantastic year ahead, full of good food, prosperity and everything else your heart desires!
With love, from PK @ Food-Dee-Dum.
If you’re interested in a description about what makes up the Vishu Saadya, take a look at this post from the archives.