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Vishu » Rituals and Customs of Vishu Festival

Rituals and Customs of Vishu Festival

The festival of Vishu heralds the beginning of the Malayalee New Year and the festival is celebrated in a big way inKerala and the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. Vishu day marks the Sun’s transit to the zodiac MeshaRashi as per the Indian Astrological calculations.

The traditional people ofKerala celebrated the Vishu festival with a lot of joy and cheerfulness. There are many traditions which have been followed by different generations or people and there are some customs which has been in practice since last few years. Here are all of the Vishu traditions and customs described.

Vishukkani or the Vishu Sight

The traditional name Vishukkani comes from the Malayalam word “Kani” which literally means “that which is seen first”. So the name Vishukkanu means “that which is seen first in Vishu”.

Under this tradition of Vishukkani, a prescribed list of items is collected and people see it the first thing on a Vishu morning. The tradition originates from the strong belief of the people celebrating Vishu festival that good things seen on the New Year acts as a lucky charm and brings good luck for the entire year.

Uruli is an open mouthed shallow circular vessel made out if ball metal. Behind this vessel, a metal mirror known as valkkannadi and an image of Lord Krishna is placed. Two standing oil lamps are also placed before the deity.

On the day of Vishupulari, (the dawn of Vishu day) it’s a custom to wake up very early and go to the puja room with the eyes closed so that the first thing a person sees is the glorious view of God with Vishukkani, reflected on the mirror. This ritual is known as Kanikanal.

It is also considered to read verses from Ramayana or Bhagwat-Gita after viewing the Vishukkani. According to the customs of Vishu festival, the page will be opened will have a relation with one’s life in the coming year.


After performing one of the first rituals of Vishu festival, Vishukkani, all of the family members takes bath and wear new clothes to collect Vishukkaineetam. This is a practice of distributing wealth in form of coins. The elders of the family give away coins or notes to the younger ones.

Some of the wealthy families will not give money to their children but also to their neighbours, servants etc. People carry out this custom in this belief that this way their children would be blessed with prosperity in the future.


Vishu is not just filed with traditional rituals, but also the customs of feasting. Special dishes are prepared using jackfruits, mangoes, pumpkins and gourd besides other seasonal vegetables and fruits. The food items consist of roughly equal proportions of sweet, salty, sour and bitter items. Popular feast dishes include 'Veppampoorasam' (a bitter preparation of neem), Kanji (drink made of rice, spices and coconut milk) and ‘Mampazhapachadi' (a sour mango soup).

In small villages, men and women dress up wearing a skirt of dried banana leaves and masks on face. Then they move from house to house and collect rewards for their performance