Vishu Holiday in Kerala
This weekend I went back to my home state Kerala to celebrate Vishu with my family. Vishu is our new year and is usually a time to be with family. I have celebrated with my family in the U.S a couple of times before, but was curious to how my family in India would traditionally celebrate it.
I arrived Thursday afternoon and was greeted by my cousins and Aunts. My one aunt who lives in Singapore, who I didn't think I was going to see on this trip, suprised me at the airport. The last time I saw her I was just a child so It was such a great suprise to have seen her. I also had seen my cousin after fifteen years, when I saw him he was just a baby. It made me realize how much time flew by. That evening itself we put off firecrackers to ring in the new year. It was a great time with my family, to see them and be all together again. I just wish i knew malayaljum so I could understand their jokes and dialouges.
The next day, at three thirty in the morning, my cousin woke me up. This is a tradition every year, my first time my grandmother woke me up. I had to keep my eyes closed and my Aunt and cousin let me to the new year pooja/darshan. My cousin woke up really early to set it all up, and woke me up to see it as tradition for the new year. This is said to bring you good fortune in the new year. Though it was early and I didn't have my glases on, it was absolutely beautiful. In the darkness, I could see the lamps, and coconuts lite next to the diety. After enjoying the view I went back to sleep as my family went to temple at four am. In the new year, us cousins or young ones get money from our elders. My cousin was telling me about it when I arrived but I didn't expect all of my aunts and uncles to give me cash. It is apart of the new years tradition to get this money. My cousin was saying its a good thing, but when we are aunts and uncles, we will have to do this for our neices and nephews and then it might not be as fun.
I woke up again at a normal hour and after having breakfast my aunts took me to the temple. This temple is the same temple my grandmother prayed at. She prayed that she would be taken away from kerala, and got her wish. so it is a very special temple. She also donated to the temple and the roof that is on it was done by my grandmother's donations. It was such a sureal moment and I prayed for things I wished for in the new year. We watched as the priests decorated the elephants and mount them with the diety in hand. It was an absolute spectacle to see, the elephants moved around the temple as we did in prayer. After praying, we watched the procession of elephants and priests playing music. It was such a wonderful moment and probably one of my favorites since being here. The elephants were so beautiful and I wish I was here for the full festival. At the end of nine days, there are nine elephants and a proceeding of them afterward. I only saw three, and couldn't imagine what that procession would be like. My aunts were telling me when they were younger, the elephants used to parade down the road by their house. They used to be so scared and hide from the elephant. After their mother found them, they would give a coin to the elephant, but worried about a fire cracker going off. They would run away from the elephants as soon as possible after giving the coin. My aunt asked me if I was scared of the elephants and I said no. The elephants were so beautiful in all of their decorations. It truly was a sight to see and soemthing to be remembered.
The festivities will continue today and I will continue to enjoy my time with family. Celebrating here was definitly different from celebrating back home. At home we did the pooja(prayer) in the morning, but I never got to see the elephants and have that special prayer. At home, Vishu has always been a time for all of us Karthas in the U.S. to gather and be together. The first year we did it back home, my cousins, aunts, uncles, and other relatives from all over the U.S. came to our house. My grandfather cooked up a feast, I played music and we all celebrated our time being together. My dad invited his co workers and I invited friends as well. We all celebrated together and had such a good time. I enjoyed seeing what the traditions were here and going to the temple where my grandmother prayed. I got to see more traditions of this celebration which was so wonderful. it was a completely different experience from what I remebered being back home. I have also been able to spend time with my family who like me, have come to visit for the holiday. This family time is what I remembered as always being my favorite part of the Vishu holiday. It has been such a wonderful time and I am so happy that I decided to come here for the holiday. My other family members in India and Uttaraa wished me a happy vishu which was so appreciated. It makes this holiday even more special, and again I am so thankful to my family here who have taken me in allowing me to celebrate with them. Apart from the vishu holiday, so many people come here to Kerala to the same temple my grandmother went to because of its auspeiciousness. I have made that same pilgramage. This new year's celebration has been so special and I am excited for the new year to come.