Vishu marks the beginning of a new year and the spring season as per the Malayalam calendar of Kerala. It is celebrated with much pomp and enthusiasm by Keralites all over the world. The traditional 'vishukkani' - a set of materials in a brass vessel as a symbolic harbinger of prosperity - is arranged in houses to be viewed by family members, first thing in the morning. It is believed that seeing the kani brings luck and good fortune for the entire year. Elders in the family give vishukaineetam for the younger ones, denoting the distribution of wealth. These rituals may differ in various parts of the state. However, there are particular rules in which the vishukkani has to be prepared.
How to set a perfect vishukkani
Vishukkani or the arrangement of various objects to be seen by the family in the morning, symbolizes the immense wealth and blessings that the nature offers to the mankind. Every object in this world possesses the satwa, rajo and tamo gunas. Objects which posses the satwa guna should only be used to prepare the kani. The uruli (traditional vessel made of brass), nilavilakku (lamp) and valkindi (pitcher) should be washed and cleaned well before arranging the kani.
The eldest female member of the family or other elderly people should arrange the elaborate kani on the previous night itself. It should be arranged in front of the image or idol of Lord Krishna. The idol could be adorned with a garland preferably made of flowers from your own backyard. The uruli with a wide, circular mouth represents the universe. Half of the uruli should be filled with unakkalari (rice with bran). Golden hued juicy cucumbers should be placed first followed by jack fruit, de-husked coconut, mango, red bananas, lemons and gooseberries. Jack fruit and coconuts are believed to be the favorite food of Lord Ganesha. Lord Subramanya loves mangoes and little Krishna’s favorite fruit is the ripe red bananas. The lemons and gooseberries are included in the kani to please Goddess Lakshmi.
A vaalkannadi or metal mirror is placed in the center of the uruli as an offering to Goddess Bahgavati. A golden chain too should be kept beside it. Along with the kani, one should also see his/ her own face in the mirror. Most importantly the beautiful yellow kani konna flowers (Indian laburnum) should be placed. The cucumber is imagined as the graceful face of Lord Vishnu, wearing a floral crown made of kani konna. The metal mirror is imagined as his gracious mind.
Beside the uruli, in a metal salver, a clean kasavu mundu (traditional attire), a holy book, kumkum dish, kohl and a coin and an areca nut in a betel leaf, should be kept. Grains too could be kept in it. Gold ornaments or coin represents the wealth gifted by Goddess Lakshmi and the holy book denotes the great knowledge imparted by Goddess Saraswati. In some places, the grains are sowed after viewing it as kani in the morning.
A traditional oil lamp, with five wicks, should be placed on a stool or table. Incense sticks, water in a pitcher, flowers and a small lamp should be arranged as part of the elaborate kani for the next morning. The lamp should be placed in such a way that the shadow shouldn’t fall on the idol of Lord Krishna, when it is lighted. It is believed that seeing the kani, which represents wealth and prosperity on the dawn of Vishu, would bring in good luck and success for the entire year.