More than 500 men, women and children clad in traditional festive dresses came to the Sathya Sai Baba Community hall in Onehunga on Saturday, April 13 to celebrate the Vishu festival.

Vishukani is one of the biggest festivals for the Malayali Hindu community like its neighbour Tamilians, Kannadigas or Teluguites. It marks the first day of harvest, which is observed with a lot of pomp and joy within the community. This festival is also equivalent to Punjab’s Baisakh, Assam’s Bihu and Bengal’s Poila Boisakh.

Back in Kerala, special events are organised by the community members at small towns, villages and even at homes and community halls where the entire community gathers as one big family welcoming the festival of harvest or solar New Year.

As a tradition, it is essential to start the day with family, and seeing auspicious joyful things, as there is a belief that if one sees good things first on Vishu morning- he or she would experience the same and have a happier year ahead.

People prepare a tray of fruits such as rice, lemon, coconut, jackfruit, metal mirror, golden yellow flowers, a portrait of Vishnu etc.

Men wear Kasavu Munda, an off-white piece of clothing with golden or red borders- and women wear Kerala Kasavu sarees or silk sarees with similar broad red or golden borders on this auspicious occasion.

As a part of the celebration, the idol of Vishnu, or his avatar- Krishna is kept to pray. The idol is surrounded with floral decorations, incense sticks,     fruits and lamp and people sing hymns in his praise.

The event on Saturday started with a classical Carnatic music Bhajan (hymn) rendered by a senior member of the community. This was followed by Bharatnatyam dances by different dance groups through the day, cinematic dances displaying the joy of this auspicious day that it brings to the families and the community.

“A vital part of the event is to introduce Vishu to our younger generation who are born here and not much familiar with our customs and festivals. We want our children to participate in such events, and we see a very enthusiastic response from them,” Kiran Kumar, a member of the organising team of Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam told The Indian Weekender.

As a part of the celebrations, community members also give alms to poor and to charity, and the children enjoy setting off fireworks.