vishu kani


Getting up at 4 am, bleary-eyed and barely awake, I would half-stumble, half be dragged to the swami corner. Multiple applications of water to the eyes would ensue as my parents attempted to make me notice every single tiny detail of the vishu kani. Eventually, about 10 minutes later, my brain would actually comprehend what it was being made to see. I have the most memories of celebrating vishu at home when Thatha was around – he would be sitting there watching me take it all in. In the end there would be a single question as to whether I noticed the finishing touches such as the gold, and the multiple currencies. By this time, Warsha would be taking an active interest in the world around her, even if both our eyes drooped ever so occasionally. Then would come a small prayer, and we would reverentially touch swami padam before we reached what we termed as the best part – vishu kaineetam. Each of us would get it in turn from Thatha, oldest to youngest.. and the tally of how much we “earned” would begin. I remember a time when it was a competition between all us cousins – any and all sources of vishu kaineetam were valid and would be used. Bonus would be when one of the other Thathas dropped by for a visit – it meant significant augmentation to our hoard.

There are a few things that have dropped by the way over the last 5 years. I could earlier figure out vishu based on the preparations the previous night – Appa and Amma would start post-dinner to arrange the many items that had been accumulated over the past week. Different parts would be brought in from their cubby-holes as the decoration progressed. It would be done pretty quickly, but too long for me and Warsha – it was something that we constantly ran away from doing. Contrastingly, my UK vishus were marked by remembering to see God early in the morning, rather than email. This year I managed the closest I could get to something “normal”: managing to see rice, dal, god, and gold at a decently early hour. There is much more I could have done, what I find strange is that I innately want to ensure I hold on to doing them. I am barely religious, and rituals are not high on the priority list – but these small things seem to be the anchors to a better time, a simpler time.. when vishu truly marked the beginning of  a new year.

Happy Vishu.


12 thoughts on “vishu kani

  1. Happy Vishu Satish!

    I am glad the Rasam effort this morning served as a partial kani. I am oddly saddened with a feeling that I don’t miss it as much as I seem to feel is necessary!

  2. Megha

    @SEV: Happy Vishu to you too dude! At home, I would help mom setup the Vishu Kanni!! Man, I miss doing that!!

    @galadriel: kaineetam is the money you get for touching the feet of the elders. I did not touch the spouses’ feet but did ensure that I get a generous kaineetam 😉

  3. A burst of nostalgia – I felt like you were very nearly describing my own past Vishu celebrations. Unfortunately, we didn’t celebrate Vishu this year – but this was a nice substitute to read.

    Happy Vishu to you too 🙂

  4. SEV

    @Rahul: Yeah, such is life.
    @Megha: Don’t give her ideas!
    @Vi: Sad to hear no Vishu this year, but happy Vishu anyway.
    @Kriti: The picture on the wiki page is very remniscient of home 😦
    @Kanchan: Yes, I’m one of those weird hybrid Tam-Mallu people 🙂 Both wishes apply to us.

  5. kanchan

    Isn’t Vishu celebrated by Malayalis?
    In a way, I miss Vishu too (a teeny weeny bit), my roomie used to prep the Kani and all…
    Anyway, Happy Vishu to you.

  6. It was so hopeless this year…i was so stressed by the next day’s exam that after mom and dad gave me kaineetam and appa jokingly told me i had to keep it back on the padam, i actually did. im a loser.

  7. vati

    We missed you very much but recollecting about Thatha brought back fond memories of olden days – I did not know how to attach a single photo here but for those of you who want to see some vishu setups, pls Njoi from

    Vishu Kaineetam: Children wait eagerly for this ritual. The elders of the family starting with the grand father or father give away Kaineetam to the younger ones. The Kaineetam consists of coins (now mostly notes) with Konna flowers, rice and the gold from the Uruli. The gold and the rice are returned to the Uruli and touch the eyes with flower. Earlier days, it was a custom to give Kaineetam to all the people associated with the house such as servants, field workers and land-tenants. The principle is the symbolic sharing of the prosperity and wishing happiness for all.

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