Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala and in the Tulunadu region(Mangalore & Udupi districts) usually in the second week of April in the Gregorian calendar. This occasion signifies the sun's transit into the Meda Raasi (first zodiac sign) according to Indian astrological calculations, and represents the vernal equinox. "Vishu" in Sanskrit means "equal". The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani, which literally means "the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up". The Vishukkani consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh lemon, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli in the puja room of the house. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. This is arranged the night before Vishu. On Vishu, the custom is to wake up at dawn and go to the puja room with eyes closed so that the Vishukkani is the first sight in the new season. Reading verses from the Hindu Holy book Ramayanam after seeing the "Vishukkani" is considered auspicious. It is also believed that the page of the Ramayanam which is opened up will have a bearing on one's life in the coming year. Devotees visit temples like Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple to have a "Vishukkani Kazhcha" in the early hours of "Vishu" day. "Vishu" is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. Setting off firecrackers is part of the celebration, especially for children. People wear new clothes (Puthukodi) for the occasion and elders of the family give money, called Vishukkaineetam, to children, servants and tenants. Vishu is also a day of feasting. The foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhappulissery (a sour...
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