Vishu 2024: Date, timing, history, significance and celebration of Malayalam New Year - Hindustan Times

Vishu 2024: Date, timing, history, significance and celebration of Malayalam New Year

By, New Delhi
Apr 11, 2024 01:57 PM IST

Vishu is a traditional festival celebrated in Kerala, marking the Malayali New Year. Explore history, significance and various rituals, customs of the festival.

Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrating the Malayalam New Year in Kerala, Tulu Nadu and Mahe in India. In the Malayalam calendar, Vishu falls on the first day of the month of Medam ( April 14 or 15 in the Gregorian calendar). "Vishu" means "equal" in Sanskrit, and it's not just a Malayalam event. The festival is observed under different names throughout India. In Punjab, Vishu is known as Baisakhi, while in Assam it is celebrated as Bihu. It is the traditional New Year, while the Kollam era calendar New Year falls on the 1st Chingham. Family get-togethers, the preparation of colourful auspicious objects and viewing these first thing on Vishu Day (Vishukkani) are the main events of the celebration. From date to significance, scroll down to know more. (Also read: Happy Eid-ul-Fitr 2024: 18 ways to wish Eid Mubarak in different languages)

Vishu is a traditional Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala.(HT photo)
Vishu is a traditional Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala.(HT photo)

All you need to know about Vishu 2024

Vishu 2024 date

This year, the auspicious festival of Vishu will be observed on Thursday, April 14. According to Drik Panchang, the Sankranti Moment on Vishu Kani will occur at 9:15 PM on April 13.

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History of Vishu

Vishu has a rich history steeped in mythology and folklore. One such tradition is that Vishu is the day on which Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. Another myth says that Vishu is a celebration of the return of Surya Dev. The alternative folklore is that Ravana, the demon king, prevented Surya Dev or the Sun God from rising from the east. After Ravana's demise, the sun, also known as Surya Dev, began to rise from the east on the day of Vishu. Since then, Vishu has been widely observed.

Significance of Vishu

According to the Malayalam calendar, Vishu is a significant festival in Kerala that ushers in the New Year. It is celebrated with customs, festivals and gift-giving that have great cultural, spiritual and social significance. Vishu, which means 'equal' in Sanskrit, refers to a day with an equal number of day and night hours or the equinox. Vishu is celebrated by families on the day of Mesha Sankranti, also known as Mesha Sankramam. The worship of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna is the way people honour this time of the year dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The three primary features of Vishu celebrations are Vishu Kani, Vishu Kaineettam and Vishubhalam.

Vishu celebrations and rituals

Traditionally, the Vishu Kani is seen at first light as part of the dawn ceremonies. An elder family member prepares the Vishu Kani the day before the celebration. It consists of a bell-shaped vessel called an Uruli filled with symbolic objects and auspicious materials such as raw rice, flowers, coins and other items. The Uruli is accompanied by a lighted traditional lamp called Nilavilakku. On the day of the festival, family members wake up with their eyes closed and look at the Vishu Kani first thing in the morning to attract good fortune and wealth.

Following this tradition, the family recites verses from the Ramayana, followed by the customary bursting of crackers as part of Vishu Paddakam. Subsequently, all family members gather to relish a lavish Vishu Sadya, a traditional feast served on banana leaves comprising 20-30 dishes. This feast features a variety of delicacies such as Vishu Thoran, Beans Thoran, Beetroot Pachadi, Manga Peukku, Tomato Rasam, Aviyal, Sarkara Varatti, Olan, Chakka Aviyal, and Semiya Payasam, making it a cherished aspect of the festival celebrated with great enthusiasm by all.

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