Monday, 29 April, 2013

A Vishu Vignette...

Early on a cold morning you are awakened by loving elderly hands. Hesitantly you wake up but to see nothing. Your eyes are covered by cupped palms of your beloved one – that can be your parent or grandparent; or even your elder sibling. From the bed, with your eyes still covered by those loving hands, you are safely and slowly led through a perfect dark. You then reach a corner of your house where your eyes are thrown open into an awesome sight. Glittering traditional lamp glows well with multiple flames fluttering at you. Your favourite deity’s photo bears a graceful smile. Golden spangles seem to cascade from the opulent bunches of ‘Kanikonna’ flowers. Coins, clothes, fruits, vegetables and what not! There is even a mirror kept among these, to see your own face…Garlands everywhere and fragrance in the air – it’s Vishu. Just like a magician, the day starts with blindfolding you, and later unfolds a majestic sight of everything darling to you.

On Vishu day, you cannot dart into and make a regular bath. Before taking bath you should smear oil well on your scalp. After bath, of course, you are going to be clad in new dresses. Then with all reverence you approach the eldest member of the family, bow respectfully and stretch your right hand. The eldest person then blesses you, places coins and currencies on your palm and graciously pats you in expression of abundant affection. As a child to whom managing with money is untold, your eyes twinkle. Coins and currencies pour in from every elder member of the family and in a few minutes your pockets bulge and you become rich. 

Now you have every right to use your money as you wish. You can buy chocolates or comics; ice-cream or popcorn. During my tenure at the Magic Academy, I could see many children buying magic kits, magic toys and magic books with their Vishu collection. Some of them later got that magic bug’s bite and became disciples at the Academy.

For my Assamese friends, Dr. Rajeeb and Deepsikha, Vishu is ‘Bihu’. If Keralites have one Vishu a year, they have three Bihus – in October, January and April. Of the three, the principal one, marking the Assamese New Year, coincides with Kerala’s Vishu. What is common is that in both states, the festival has strong connections with farming. In Kerala, the best farm products are offered to the deity, where as in Assam, lands are prepared for another farming season. In one way or the other, the day is auspicious also for many other states including Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Manipur and Tamil Nadu. How magical our Nation is! Akhila and I have already got a Bihu invitation from our Assamese friends. Festivals are enticing threads tied to each human heart. Wherever on this world, hearts float like kites over the clouds of excitement, tugged by the threads of nostalgia. This is a wonder world!

-K.P. Sivakumar

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