Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Day 11 - Kanikonna - a visual Vishu treat

Cassia fistula. Courtesy: The Wire

'Kanikonna' or 'kani konna', is the Malayalam word for Cassia fistula, commonly known as 'golden shower' or 'Indian laburnum'. It is widely found in the Indian subcontinent, but more popular in the state of Kerala.

These trees draped in golden yellow flowers are so pretty and pleasing. Typically, the flowers bloom around this time, in time for the festival, but apparently they are blooming at other times of the year as well, said to be because of changes in weather patterns. 

These flowers are an inseparable part of the Kerala festival of Vishu, which falls generally on the 14th or 15th of April every year. This year it's on the 15th.

(By the way, Vishu is popularly, and wrongly, referred to as Malayalam new year festival. The Malayalam calendar year changes during Onam, and not during Vishu. This is the beginning of spring, in the northern hemisphere. Vishu is from the Sanskrit word Visuvam meaning equinox -- this time of the year, when the Sun has crossed over the equator to the north, and the duration of day and night is roughly equal.)

Vishu Kani. Courtesy: Wikipedia

On the eve of Vishu, homes set up what is called Vishu Kani. That's an assortment of items like fruits, grains, lemon, cucumber, vegetables, coconut, betel leaves, betel nut etc. along with some currency notes or coins, a small mirror, an oil lamp and an idol or photo of Lord Krishna (Lord Vishnu) placed in a metallic plate. It's traditionally set up by the eldest woman member of the family. 

On the day of Vishu, she wakes up first, and then wakes up others, and leads them blindfolded to the Kani for them to see it the first thing in the day. Nowadays, it's only the children who are led up blindfolded by their parents to the Kani. They demand that too because of the fun element involved. The belief is that seeing the auspicious Kani would set the pattern for the rest of the year. 

Also, every member of the family wears brand new dress on Vishu. It's referred to as Vishu Kodi.

There is also something called the Vishu Kaineettam. That's a small amount of money that elders give usually to children or to someone younger. What used to ₹1 in my school days, has now become ₹51 or even ₹101! Children, playfully, sometimes demand Vishu Kaineettam from elders in the family!

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.

13 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Such a joyous festival - even if the kids learn a little extortion from it!!! &*> YAM xx
    K=Kali Yuga

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  2. Happy Vishu to you and your family Pradeep... so its not New Year ?? Thats news to me


    Jayashree writes

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  3. Thanks for your blog post. I also thought vishu is the start of Malayalam new year, because it always falls on Tamil new year. Happy Vishu.

    Golden Shower has very bad meaning in some parts of the world.

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  4. Interesting... Vishu Kani is something i have heard of. But not Kaineetam ( this word was easy to read -sounds like Tamil)

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  5. The day of Vishu reminds me of May Day. When I was a kid we would hang May baskets on the door of someone and then run and they would have to catch us. The baskets were filled with flowers and sometimes candy.

    Visiting from the annual A2Z Blogging Challenge

    Cheers,
    Crackerberries

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  6. Golden Shower is a great description of that tree, its colours are amazing

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  7. Hi Pradeep - first time I have been able to catch up with your A2Z this year. Thanks for explaining this festival - fun for the kids!

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  8. Informative post. I never knew much about vishu even if i know friends celebrate it. Kids gaming money as gift is similar to eidi during ramzan

    Happy vishu to u all

    Dropping by from a to z http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.com/

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  9. I love these kani konna trees when they are in bloom. They look so cool, so Buddha-like.

    From A2Z: https://matheikal.blogspot.com/

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  10. I have a fond memories of Cassia fistula, Vishu and Vishu Kanni. In Marathi we call Cassia fistula as "Bahava". Learnt about its connection to Vishu courtesy a dear colleague who happened to be a Mallyali. Vishu Kanni was introduced to me at Sharjah by a tamil friend born and brought up at Pallakad.
    Back at Pune, there are many Cassia fistula trees and its a pretty sight to see them in full bloom. For me they symbolise friendship with my friends with Mallyali roots :)

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  11. Thank you for sharing - Have a wonderful celebration!!
    Keep Moving

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  12. This is such a sweet post. We in north call it Amaltas. I have fond memories of this tree as the campus (where I had spent my childhood) had all the major roads lined with this, gulmohar and bougainvillea.

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