This coming Friday is Mallu New Year.
We call it Vishu.
Vishu is just plain great fun. It’s the time of the year you stand to make a lot of money, which comes inversely proportional to your age. The younger you are the more you make. Kind of like sex. As you grow older, you start realizing that more is going from you than coming in. But then, that’s what age does to you.
To all the rest of you who are not mallus, let me elaborate on our custom. But fear not. In the coming 100 years, you too who stand on the sidelines watching in, will be part of this. Since the world is divided into two -
Mallus and those yet to become mallus.
The Vishu day starts pretty early, being woken up with a hand across your eyes. This can be a little unsettling for a non mallu, but to us, we are used to being blindfolded in the wee hours of the morning by our parents and led to the pooja room.
Here your sight is mercifully restored to behold the Hindu version of a decorated Christmas tree. Usually it is an idol of Krishna, one of our coolest gods who is a bit Jethro Tull, surrounded with all that stands for prosperity to a Keralite. We celebrate this event with some auspicious items likes raw rice, fresh linen, golden cucumber, betel leaves, metal mirror, the yellow flowers 'konna', and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called 'uruli'. There will also be some gold. You can part a mallu from Kerala but you cant take her gold away.
This viewing is called Vishu Kani.
Now let me endeavour to explain what we mean by kani.
As an Indian, the first thing we see when we wake up is very important to us. In fact we even have a name for it; it’s called Kani in Malayalam, Shaghun in Hindi.
No, I am not making this shit up. Come on, this is stuff straight out of JR Tolkien kind of imagination. It ranks close to the hairy feet of Hobbits. I just lack that kind of head works.
I think in the old days we had too much time on our hands. After we had taken our elephant ride, chased the tiger from the back yard and killed a couple of cobras in the kitchen, we spent the rest of the time figuring out how the world works.
One day an old Brahman fart had his number called out in our annual Royal bingo contest.
This made him think. After all it’s not every year he won those Kohinoor diamonds and rubies.
So being the real scientific dude he was, he figured that his windfall was the direct result of seeing a cow's butt when he had woken up that day.
Your query, on how in the world he happened to be sleeping next to a cow, will remain a mystery in our Indian Historical Annuals.
Soon a scientific study was held. Every household started documenting what their first sight was when they woke up and how that day turned out. This lead to our great list on Shagun. The long list of what to see and what not to see.
- seeing the barrel of a gun when you wake up is not a good shagun.
- seeing a prostitute is a great shagun. Really. I am not kidding. I would really like to meet the guy who figured this one out. I bet he didn’t tell his wife.
Since, getting a cow and a prostitute to stand in your pooja room is difficult and not to mention a bit much to explain to the missus, we make do with the above mentioned items.
After being kanified, we move onto the best part of Vishu. Ripping off our elders. We start young. It is mandatory that the elders of the family should give what is known as Vishu Kai Nittam (nope, not Yippe Kayee), which to the rest of you means moolah.
Then comes the Sadhya. This is what we mallus are really good in. No words can explain this, so I will just put a picture here.
After this, the day is officially over. Theres nothing much you can do after gorging on a Mallu Sadhya, except hit the sack and sleep till 7pm and wake up grumpy and irritated.
Then we do it all over again the next year.
Thus a mallu celebrates his new year and greets everyone with a new tongue twister: Vishudinaashamsagal (yep, try saying that after 3 pegs inside you). This is our idea of an alcohol breath analyser. This is also why you see most mallu men sleeping outside their house. Heat? My arse.