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Updated: April 14, 2010 18:35 IST

The season of giving…and getting

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TRADITION PASSED ON: Konnappu is a very important part of Vishu. Photo: K.K. Najeeb
The Hindu
TRADITION PASSED ON: Konnappu is a very important part of Vishu. Photo: K.K. Najeeb

Kanikonna, Vishukani and of course kaineettam, Roshni Mohan pans in on the importance of Vishu kaineettam for Gen-Next

It's the dawn of yet another Vishu, another new year in the Malayali calendar. The auspicious beginning of bounty and prosperity. The Vishukani ritual of receiving an offering of flowers, rice (unakkalari) and a gold coin from the oldest male member has sustained in Malayali homes in time. The blessings of the Almighty are invoked and the offering is returned reverentially. Next comes the best part of Vishu – the cash kaineettam! Can there be a more propitious way to flag off the festivities than by receiving the kaineettam? Asks Gen – Next.


They agree that the Vishukani is resplendent all right, but their vote is with the ‘kaineettam', with good reason too. Vishu is the only time of the year when they get cash which they can splurge on goodies without guilt. “One needs the moolah to chill out with friends. With the multiplex and food courts beckoning you, one simply cannot tighten one's purse strings. You really have to work overtime on your PR skills to cash in on the Vishu spirit,” they remark. For Shailaja Menon, a public relations and advertising student there is thrill in getting kaineettams from extended family members, “It is the only time of the year when all of them give us money. The big fat Indian family proves to be boon at this time. You can even remind all those who have forgotten without any inhibition. It is taken in the Vishu spirit amidst much light hearted banter.”

One rupee is out

Inflation has hit the Vishu kaineettam scenario too. The ubiquitous one rupee kaineetam of yesteryear has multiplied several times over to fit into today's scheme of things. The amount doled out is definitely more among nuclear family members as compared to those of the extended family. But the going rate is Rs. 10 and it can even go up to Rs. 100 or more in affluent families. Of course the generous aunt or uncle is the all time favourite. “Cousins enjoy pulling your leg and order you to prostrate before them in acquiescence. I would do that and even a jig just to make them shell out the money'' quips Vineet Menon a plus two student.

“Pocket money and kaineettam are as different as chalk and cheese,” says Deepak Madhav a B.B.A. student. Parents do give us money for our sundry expenses but the best part of Vishu kaineettam is that you do not have to listen to sermons on the value of money and nifty spending.''

Most of them prefer to blow up the kaineettam as soon as they receive it. Branded accessories and eating out and movies will not gel simply because the former are way too expensive. The funds are never enough for both. So they prefer the latter since the tab is on parents when it comes to clothes. Any way they are sure to get new ones for Onam, so Vishu is the time to binge. There are some kids who keep the kaineettams safely with them or put it in any mini deposits and get them out to buy presents for their parents or grandmothers, but this practice was in the old days.

Loving gesture

Rebecca Toms, a B.Com student enjoys getting the kaineettam from her maternal grandmother who is a Hindu. “More than the money it is the love behind the gesture which I hold dear. You are also blessed by the elders, and enveloped in an aura of affection; the pleasure lingers for a really long time,” she says.

It is a time to give, a time to get but most of all a time for the family. Vishu keeps changing from how it used to be, but the fact that Malayalis still celebrate it, changing with the times, but never forgetting its importance is what counts. While the agrarian angle has changed, the feeling of a new Malayalam calendar and what this new year brings, is a source of happy anticipation.



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