The despondency of the COVID-19 years seemed distant as Vishu shoppers made a last-minute dash to purchase clothes, vegetables, sweets, gifts and provision on the eve of the traditional spring harvest festival on Thursday.
Family togetherness marks Vishu. Witnessing the Vishukkani at home first thing in the morning is the high point of the celebration. The Vishukkani is traditionally a cauldron of bell metal overflowing with yellow Kanikonna (Indian laburnum) blossoms, coins, gold ornaments, silver artefacts, silk, a mirror, an image of the Hindu deity, Krishna, flowers, fruits and paddy stalks. A lighted oil lamp illuminates the traditional Vishukkani.
Many reckon that viewing the symbol of plentifulness at dawn on Vishu heralds a bountiful harvest season. Witnessing the cornucopia of abundance also signals the advent of wealth and happiness.
Elders pursue the Vishu practice of giving coins and currency notes to young children, most of which are almost immediately spent on firecrackers and sweets.
Last-minute Vishu shopping animated markets and bazaars across the State. The summer rain had rid Kanikonna trees of their blossom. Hence, artificial Kanikonna flowers elbowed into the vacuum.
Retailers, including upscale jewellery and apparel shops, had window dressed their outlets to attract Vishu shoppers. Many traders felt the surge of shoppers is likely to continue into Easter on Sunday and Id-ul-Fitr two weeks later.
Manikandan, a vegetable dealer in Palakkad, said business had picked up. But, it is yet to reach pre-COVID-19 levels. People had relatively less money to spend than in the pre-COVID years.
He said the unseasonal summer showers had upended the harvest of traditional Vishu vegetables, particularly the golden cucumber, which is an integral part of the Vishukkani. Hence, the traders imported greens from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to compensate for the shortage.
Saleem, a trader at Valiayandadi in Palakkad, said Ramzan and Vishu had caused fruit prices, chiefly mango, to spiral.
In Kozhikode, Vishu shoppers thronged the iconic S.M. Street and Mavoor Road. Government-backed Vishu-Easter-Ramzan trade fairs offered essentials at lesser than market prices. Kannur also witnessed a similar surge. The scene was similar in other parts of the State, including Kochi.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan wished Keralites a prosperous Vishu.