This was in the drafts, waiting to be scheduled, but incomplete. And being busy on Vishu, and it’s eve, because of the anticipated joy and preparation of the SB’s visit, it is being completed only now. The finishing touches. And this post is more for the verbal/linguistic reader, than the visual, because I forgot to take pictures of the awesome Vishukani I had arranged …
The Konna tree, at my parents’ home, a beautiful beautiful sight!
Here’s a beautiful message I received via sms, from Omana
ഓര്മ്മകള് കൂട് കൂട്ടിയ തളിര് ചില്ലയില്
പൊന്നിന് നിറമുള്ള ഓര്മകളുമായിഒരു വിഷുകൂടി വരവായിസ്നേഹത്തോടെ ഒരായിരംവിഷുആശംസകള്
(Pliss to ignore and excuse spelling mistakes in the Malayalam printed here. Google’s transliteration is responsible for it )
It’s that time of the year again, when the golden drops of the sun take the form of the Kani Konna… the Cassia Fistula tree, or the Indian Laburnum, it’s bunches of chandelier shaped gorgeous yellow flowers, seen almost all over the countryside, in Kerala, and elsewhere.
It’s Vishu. The beginning of a new year, in the Malayalam Calendar. The beginning of the month of Medam (മേടം), the first of the 12 months of the calendar we follow.
This year, Vishu was celebrated on the 2nd of Medam (മേടം), on the Makam Nakshatram (മകം നക്ഷത്രം), because the Sankramam, or transition of the Sun into this Raashi was on this Nakshatram, which happened to start only sometime during the noon, of the 1st of Medam. So my dad informed me, referring to the Panchaangam. It is still a bit confusing, but not being well versed in astrology and its terms (though I have a great interest in it- esp. predictions! ) I accepted it.
After a gap of several years, I had a Vishu Kani in my own home, not my parents. Else we always gather together as a family at my Dad’s place and celebrate the New Year. This year, the SB was to arrive on the eve so I decided to have my own My mother instructed me, and with my badgering (don’t I always?) she managed to retain her calm, telling me why each thing was for Most of it was… “I don’t know. It is, that’s all! I DON’T know everything!!!” I’m a pest!
So she gave me her uruli (ഉറുളി) a medium sized one. I was to arrange everything in it. I record it here (too late; still, it is here, for future reference )
First a layer of rice - unkkalari (ഉണക്കലരി )
Then the vellarikka, the orange ripened cucumber vegetable (വെള്ളരിക്ക);
coconut split in halves (നാളികേരം ഉടച്ചത്)
thiruvidada or cloth (vastram) (തിരുവിടാട, വസ്ത്രം );
ripe mangoes, banana,
vermillion (kumkum കുങ്കുമം )
kajal, made at home if possible (കണ്മഷി)
jackfruit (ചക്ക), other fruits, gold and silver.
An important thing is a mirror, two kinds, the normal, and the valkannadi (a symbol of Bhagavathi, or Mother Goddess) (വാല്ക്കണ്ണാടി).
Spread all over this should be the Konnapoovu, the Konna, the golden chandelier flowers (കണി കൊന്ന), and the Erukkumpoova (എരുക്കുംപ്പൂവ് ), the flowers (picture below) from the Erukku (എരുക്ക്) Tree (a medicinal plant)
Arrange these in the order mentioned, and if one cannot fit everything into the uruli, it’s ok to place the fruits outside. The rest ought to be placed within the uruli. A brass lamp, traditional Kerala type is placed near, and lit, at the time of the Kani… the first sight on the Vishu morning. The flowers are placed last and strewn over the items there.
Very early in the morning (usually the time for the Kani is mentioned in the Almanac) usually between 3 to 4 am is the auspicious time to see this blessed sight. All of the things in the assembled array all promise prosperity, and success and good fortune. So says my mother !
Except for the jackfruit I placed the rest of it, and had a beautiful Vishu Kani of my own, for me and mine . Loved ones together on such occasions add to a simple contentment, and a feeling of completeness. I was blessed, so was my SB
Belated Wishes to each one of you once again.
Actually it was a triple whammy this day The Elder Brother’s Birthday(S), according to both the Western and Malayalam calendar was also on Vishu day Birthday Greetings too
The Athiraathram concluded on 15th April 2011, at Panjaal. I was fortunate to have been able to visit on the 11th day, for a brief period of time. Was happy to witness certain offerings to the fire, at the centre of the Chithi, and the pressing of the soma plants to extract juice, which would then be taken for Saumyam, and for the offerings to Agni again. The Saumyam is especially beneficial for women who are pregnant in their first trimester and for couples who have infertility problems. It was interesting to read from Surekha Pillai (@surekhapillai, on twitter) who was involved with the Media there, how she met some people born to mothers who had partaken of the Saumyam in the 1975 Athiraathram at the same place! More on the details of the Athiraathram here, on Sandeep Varma’s blog and the Official Website. At the end of the yaagam, people thronged to witness the final burning of the yaagashaala, which after it returns the Agni, the divine element, back to the Arani (Whence it was brought forth) resembles only a forest fire, lacking the divine force. Just before the yaagashaala was set ablaze, it rained. Poured, I am told. And so it concluded. Physically perhaps. It is held close in the hearts and recounted both in words and thoughts for those who have followed it closely and been part of it. Surekha Pillai (@surekhapillai, on twitter) aptly says, as she finally leaves; ”it’s raining tears. i guess #athirathram is finally over.” It found resonance in thousands of hearts!
Word count under 1000. That has to be a first(except for the 55 ers) for this eccentric rambler ! Have a wonderful year, all of you! God Bless!
16 April, 2011