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Ceremonies and Materials connected to Vishu
This is practice quite popular in south Kerala. Grapes, coconut, banana, rice and mango are used to make the padukka. The padukka is cut open following the auspicious sighting of the Vishukkani on the Vishu day morning. For the purpose, either a dessert or rice porridge is made.
Kanikkettu is an arrangement made of Laburnum flowers and bunch of mangoes. This is then hung on the door for people to see after they wake up on the Vishu day. After this only the padukka is cut open by preparing a dessert or rice porridge.
Chantha means market place and maattam means exchange in Malayalam. Maatta Chantha is a market where you buy goods based on barter system. This is a market that is held on the day prior to Vishu.
Among the materials arranged for sighting the Kani on the Vishu day, the Laburnum flower or the Kani Konna attains a significant place. This yellowish, golden colored flower enhances the beauty of other materials kept as part of the Vishukkani.
A type of pancake, Kaniyappam is collected by children, moving from one house to the other with calls of ‘Kani Kaniye Kani.’ This is a practice quite popular in north Malabar.
Kani Vellarikka is yellowish-red looking cucumber, which takes a special place among the materials that form part of the Vishukkani.
'Pakshi' means bird in Malayalam and Vishu Pakshi is a bird that makes its appearance as Vishu approaches. It is said that the bird gives out a call that goes like ‘vithum kaikottum, kallan chakettu, kandal mindila.’ It means: seed and spade, robber has dropped a jackfruit, won’t speak when seen.
A practice prevalent in south Malabar, Vishu Valli is all about giving rice, coconut and oil during Vishu to workers. Through this practice the workers become servitudes to the giver.
Peasants and workers bring offerings to the landlord on the Vishu day and in return they receive Hansel. The offerings made by the ryots to the landlord usually comprise agriculture different produce.
Phalam means result or prediction and Vishu Phalam or the astrological prediction made during Vishu is based on aspects like week, asterism, zodiac etc. Sun is considered as the Vishu God and it is believed that the Sun enters the country that marks the New Year in a grand manner marked by vehicle, clothes etc.
It is said that during the Meda Samkrama, if it is the Lion zodiac, then a smiling Sun would proceed to the east on the Lion in a reclined manner by wearing white dress and wielding a weapon called Musrindi and wearing Punnaga flower and the precious stone – Manikyam and would have the forehead marked by musk and food eaten from vessel of gold.
And if it is the zodiac of Tiger, then the Sun would proceed to the south in an angry mood, riding reclined on a dragon, wearing blood-colored clothes, wielding the weapon called dijipalam and wearing the Jati flower and vermilion and having food from a bronze vessel.
And if it is the zodiac of Boar during the Meda Samkrama, then the Sun would proceed to the north, shyly, riding on a boar, wearing odd-looking clothes and wielding the weapon – Khadgam and wearing the Batula flower and sandal paste.
Likewise there are other zodiac phases like donkey, elephant, cow, horse and a bird called pullu.
Vishuvat Punya Kalam
According to Muhurtha Madhaveeyam, a certain period of time (Pathu Nazhika) before and after the Samkrama time in the Malayalam months of Tulam (Oct/Nov) and Medam (March/April) is avoided for doing auspicious things. Another version of this is avoiding the pathu nazhika before the Samkrama time in the month of Medam and avoiding the pathu nazhika after the Samkrama time in the month of Thulam.