Yesterday we celebrated Vishu, a holiday in Kerala to celebrate springtime, the new year, and new beginnings. I unfortunately did not do anything for the holiday in 2022 due to its being on a weekday and having to work, but I celebrated it for the first time with my own family in 2021.
The day starts by viewing the Vishukani, a display of fruits and offerings with the traditional velekku (prayer lamp) lit, first thing in the morning before you look at anything else. Everyone is supposed to bathe before seeing the Vishukani, as it is customary to always bathe before praying or going to the temple. We have to cover the children’s eyes and guide them to the display so it is the first thing they lay eyes on in the new year. We then pray for blessings. I was able to do this in 2021 when all the kids were very young, but nowadays they are quite rowdy, so it didn’t happen exactly as planned, lol. But that’s ok! It is difficult enough to maintain holidays and traditions, but my goal is to make sure they are exposed to the traditions every year so they can learn about them and participate.
Vishu also involves a traditional Vishu sadhya (meal) served on a banana leaf. We prepare a wide array of vegetarian dishes and serve them all on the beautiful green leaf. I love cooking Malayali food, and preparing the dishes for this holiday brings me joy and comfort. We had a few guests over to enjoy the meal for dinner, and they brought a couple of side dishes also. I even got to enjoy a dry coconut chammanthi (dry chutney) from India that my friend brought over. This was SUCH a treat because I don’t remember having authentic chammanthi since the last time I visited India 12 years ago!
Below is the full menu for our Vishu sadhya this year. I have linked to the some recipes on my blog and some recipes from the web if you’re interested in trying them out.
Avial (mixed vegetable dish)
Green beans thoran (brought by guest)
Cabbage thoran (brought by guest)
Rasam (brought by guest)
Kabocha squash curry (Mathanja Erissary)
Moru curry (Kerala version of kadhi: a cooked spiced yogurt and coconut curry)
Cucumber Pachadi (Kerala version of raita: spiced yogurt dish, served cold)
Dry coconut chammanthi (brought by guest)
Choru (Kerala red rice/matta rice)
Poori (fried wheat flour bread)
Dessert: I was planning to make a traditional payasam (milk pudding with either vermicelli noodles or red rice), but truly laziness took hold and I opted for some Indian sweets from the store and mango kulfi (Indian ice cream). My mother-in-law also made her delicious and not overly sweet carrot ladoos!