Continuing a long-held tradition, Auckland Malayali Samajam will celebrate Christian Easter and Hindu Vishu festivals together on Saturday, April 10 at Blockhouse Bay community centre.

Soby Bernard Thomas, President of Auckland Malayali Samajam, told the Indian Weekender that celebrating festivals of all major religions and expressing solidarity as Keralites regardless of their varied religious beliefs was a long tradition followed by Samajam, which they intend to continue this year as well.

“Continuing our tradition and showcasing what Kerala stands for – a blissful harmony between all religions – would be the main theme of this event,” Soby said.

The event will witness prayers offered to both Jesus Christ and Lord Vishnu as part of celebrations.

Simultaneously this Easter-Vishu 2021 event will also be dedicated to all frontline workers and heroes who have shown tremendous courage, empathy and commitment in keeping New Zealand safe in the last 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian state of Kerala is globally renowned for the world-class nurses and frontline health workers emanating from the state and working all around the world, including in New Zealand.

“We will take a moment to reflect upon and appreciate the valuable contribution of our frontline health workers for their incredibly hard work in keeping everyone safe in New Zealand,” Soby said.

Speaking more about the event, Soby said, “This members-only event is designed to entertain our community in every possible way like dance, music, cultural performances, and special programmes to entertain children.”

Notably, while Christians around the world celebrate Easter, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala to mark the start of a New Year in Kerala and is the first day of the Malayalam calendar.

 

What is Vishu festival?

 

Vishu festival is equivalent to Punjab’s Baisakhi, Assam’s Bihu and Bengal’s Poila Boisakh – all marking the beginning of harvest season in India.

 

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.

 

The most important event in Vishu celebrations is called Vishukkani, meaning - the first thing Lord Vishnu sees after waking up. Articles signifying prosperity are ritually arranged around Lord Krishna, and traditional oil lamps are lit, with the hope and prayer that these are the things Lord Vishnu will see first after waking up. This ritual, it is believed, bring good luck and prosperity to the community.

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.