It is almost mid April, the Kanni Konna or the Cassia Fistula is in full bloom. This could only mean that Vishu, considered as the beginning of New Year by Keralites, is almost upon us. Unlike Onam, Vishu is celebrated mostly by Hindus only, but I know what the celebrations include from the detailed accounts that my Hindu friends have given me.
On the night before Vishu, the Vishu Kanni comprising of rice grains and tropical vegetables like cucumber, banana, jackfruit kept in an urili along with coconut halves containing oil, a lamp/wick, gold coins, kasavu clothe and ofcourse the beautiful yellow konna flowers, is prepared. Placed in front of a statue of Lord Krishna, this is the Kanni or the first thing to be seen after waking up on Vishu morning. The start of the new year with this good omen is believed to bring prosperity for the remainder of the year. So after the eldest woman of the house lights up the wick/lamp and views the kanni, the rest of the family is led blind folded to the place where it is kept.
The remainder of the day is spent with the normal fesitivities, such as crackers, and an elaborate vegetarian sadhya served on banana leaves rounded off with various types of payasam or sweet pudding. If you have had a sadhya before, you have probably eaten or been asked to eat hot cherupayar paysam (lentil pudding) served on your banana leaf along with mashed banana and a crushed pappadam/pappad. Inspite of being assured repeatedly that this is a killer combination, I have never tried it, simply because I can't bear to get my fingers sticky with all the mashing, crushing and mixing involved. So, I thought it will be a good idea to serve everything in a glass - a modern twist to a traditional combination - and I was pretty pleased with the result.
Pazham - Pappadam - Payasam
Mash a banana (pazham), the small kind, such as pallan kodan, with a spoon.
Fry or roast a pappadam. Try to get hold of kerala pappadam. Crush the pappadam.
Into a serving glass, pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cheru payar payasam. Click here for the recipe. Top with mashed banana and crushed pappadam.
Wish you and your family a very happy Vishu.