The new beginning is here. After the election heat, Malayalis are slowly turning their attention to a pleasant New Year. For the Malayali, Vishu invokes a lot of stock images; the stunningly yellow konna, the kani, the kaineettam and the crackers. But Kozhikode is home to a host of people from different parts of the country. For some it has been home for generations. They might speak a different language at home, but, Kozhikode is the only home they have known. Here is a look at what Vishu means to some of the non-Malayalis in the city.
Hansa Jayanth, Former Councillor and Standing Committee Chairperson
Though we are originally from Gujarat, our whole family was born and brought up here. Our families have been in Kozhikode for over 100 years now. The aspect of Vishu that appeals to me the most is the Vishu kani. I many not know much about the traditions of a kani, but it has a very spiritual and happy aura. I think we should have a kani to start each day, the sense of security it gives is immense. On occasions, we travel to Guruvayur Temple to get a glimpse of the kani at the temple.
Sometimes, our Malayali friends invite us over for the Vishu sadya. I live in an apartment complex with a cosmopolitan crowd. So for Onam, we have the pookkalam and rangoli for Diwali. But Vishu comes in the midst of summer holidays, when the complex is half empty.
Darius Marshall, Managing Partner, Motor Accessories Co.
My grandfather came to Kozhikode in 1868 and I was born and brought up here. Only a couple of Parsi families are left in Kozhikode today. Mostly Vishu is the time we go out of the city for a holiday. But if we are staying back, there are good friends who would extend lunch invitations. Dr. V.K. Balaraj, when he was alive, always made it a point to call us over for lunch. There were many who would invite us for Onam, but he made it a point to call us over for Vishu.
Also, the elderly ladies at our friend’s house would ask us to come and collect the Vishu kaineetam. My wife, who is from Hyderabad, was always fascinated by it. We got these shiny one rupee coins. If we happen to be in Kozhikode for Vishu, we also like go out for a vegetarian meal somewhere.
Padma B. Prabhu, Ophthalmologist
My family has been here for over 40 years. As a Konkani family, we do not celebrate Vishu per se, but an equivalent festival Ugadi, which usually comes a few days before Vishu. We clean our homes, greet people and make special dishes too. Though we do not keep the kani, what I relish about Vishu is the kaineetam. We get up early and collect the kaineetam, fresh one rupee coins and old five rupee notes, all of which I have saved all these years. When we started out, it was the old 25 paise coin that we got. My daughter too loves the ritual now.
Shopping for Vishu is a pleasure. Yes, we burst crackers. It was our grandfather who got us crackers and I remember my parents used to be wary of them. Now I understand their anxiety when my daughter insists on crackers.
Kushal Aggarwal, Co-owner, Punjab di Rasoi
My family came to Kozhikode from Punjab 40 - 45 years ago. Though I am born and brought up here, I do not know much about Vishu. It falls close to Baisakhi, but we do not celebrate that either at home. What we celebrate is Lohri. But I do remember going to a few friend’s place on Vishu. I remember the elders leading me to the temple at home with my eyes closed and showing me the kani. I remember seeing a lot of cereals, fruits and an idol of Krishna.
I have not yet decided whether to serve a sadya on Vishu at the restaurant.