Vishu and Nawroz

This was the day the child of the house always looked forward to, for it was the only successful day in a monetary sort of way, the only time money was given to the children in older days, days when terms like pocket money were not in vogue in Kerala. So when your pocket bulged with coins by the end of the day though not liberal in a value sense, coming from various uncles, aunts and elders of the family, the child had a beaming smile on your face for the next few days. The following days were spent in animated discussions with cousins as to who got how much and from whom and what was to be done with all the money.

But then Vishu was more than the ‘kainettam’. It started early that morning and had so much going on for the rest of the day. Starting with the Vishu kani, then the ‘chal pooja’ at the Chira, the fireworks, the sumptuous lunch followed by all kinds of happenings at home and the temple, the day was a joy for any Malayali, though it differed a bit from location to location. For us in Palakkad, it was a little bit more complicated with the field, farm work, many workers and so on. Let us go back in time take a look at how it all was; for those days are gone, replaced only by fond memories and just a quick and clinical Vishu kani and a lunch or dinner these days, if even that were possible.

As the article goes on, you will notice my veering away from the festival itself and go far away from the land, to lead you into other places, but for that you have to see how Vishu was some decades ago. First, thanks to Vijay Balakrishnan my friend, for sending me on this delightful quest and later Bernand Rajeev another friend, for making me embark on another but related project.

Malayalees have two main festivals, the Vishu and the Onam. The rest are celebrated somewhat half heartedly, in comparison, typically Aryan festivities such as Deepavali, Navarathri etc. Many question why the land was always so different, why the Malayalars did things a bit differently. Could it be that the separation by the Western Ghats and constant influx of foreign culture from the western visitors influenced the land so much? We shall see.

Vishu as they explain is usually on the day of the vernal equinox. Now what on earth could that be? The equinox occurs typically in March, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall (autumn) in the southern hemisphere from an astronomical viewpoint. During the equinox, the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. The vernal equinox occurs in the spring while the autumnal equinox occurs during fall (autumn). Vishu however follows the sidereal vernal equinox and generally falls on April 14 of the Gregorian year in Kerala, one of the few festivals based on the solar calendar. The word "Vishu" in Sanskrit means "equal". Therefore it is supposed that Vishu probably denotes the equinox day. Vishu is also considered as a harvest festival. Note however that although Vishu (first of Medam) is the astrological new year day of Kerala, the official Malayalam new year falls on the first month of Chingam (August - September).

Anyway while it is New Year ’s Day in neighboring Tamil lands, it is a harvest festival for the Malayalees, the day after which the hot season abates. The previous night is the important night when the older women on the family (those days we had joint families in the Tharavadu – ancestral house) got together to arrange what is known as the Vishu-Kani or what one sees as a good omen, early the next morning. Depending on what one saw, the year will turn out good or bad, but before we get to all that, let us see what the Kani is all about.

Starting with a big Uruli made of bell metal, the women arrange Konna leaves on the bottom. Then the following compulsory items are arranged therein, raw rice, paddy, a Kodi cloth (fresh, unused & typically a kasavu pudava with gold borders), gold coins, a Konna vellarikka, a holy book or thaliola grantham, Kani Konna flowers, a split coconut, Kovakka (not always though), mangoes, jackfruit, gold jewelry and finally a bell metal mirror – typically an Aranmula mirror. The coconuts are filled with clear freshly ground coconut oil and a wick lit. Brass lamps (Five wick type) are also lit and usually the whole arrangement made in or near the Pooja room of the house. The oldest female member wakes up very early (in earlier days sleeping next to the lamp and lighting it early) and lights the lamp and then brings in the other members of the family to the room, eyes tightly closed and they are made to sit in front of the Kani (typically facing east) to take it in with fresh eyes, the yellow hues of the konna, the shining gold and the affluence of the Kani arrangement. This it was believed, ushered in happiness & prosperity the following year. Nowadays all kinds of things land up in the room, like apples, bananas and so on, as well as other colored fruit to balance out the yellow.

In some houses, you took a dip in the pond in darkness, wore fresh Kodi clothes and then came in to see the Kani making sure you do not come across any bad omens on the way, but it was not so with us . In our house, it was straight from bed to the Kani room after a quick face & mouth wash, eyes closed. After all that was done and you have had a bath and wore fresh new clothes, you go around to the elders who are always seated and then humbly accept (actually a gingery smirk remained on your face) the monetary presents (vishu kainettam – new coins or crisp notes) of money from them after touching their feet and seeking blessings which they solemnly doled out. For the next one or two hours that morning, you make sure that an otta pattar (lone Brahmin) or a buffalo or a cleaning woman with a broom or a nayadi or a cat are not sighted nearby for they are bad omens.

Then all the seniors, youngsters and the servants trooped off to our Chira farming lands under the mountains, again in darkness where the chal ceremony takes place (this is only in Palakkad), where a spade furrow is laid and token ploughing conducted by the Kariasthan himself. A pooja is done and the spade decorated with Konna flowers is used to lay the furrow. After which a number of Ola padakkam or leaf crackers are lit and amidst the unearthly din, the new day is ushered with the hope for a lucky harvest in autumn. There is more to this, like the involvement of kanians or astrologers, forecasts of weather for the next season and all that, sowing of many types of seeds and farming jargon and the symbolic splitting of a coconut, but it would be too complex to the uninitiated, so I will leave it here.

The children returned to the house to continue the lighting of crackers and all kinds of fireworks while the older people sat on chairs and watched and doled out liberal doses of advise relating to health and safety and talked among themselves on how much more louder and bigger the crackers of their days were and how such and such an uncle did this or that. Much vettila and adakka is consumed, with permission given to the kids also to indulge in this activity and in which I gleefully partook.

But then you wonder why the malayali vishu is somewhat different from all the other New Year days in the neighboring states. Have you asked a question why? A mountain separation cannot give rise to a totally alien system or then again could it? Was there something else to it? And that was the question Vijay asked me, pointing towards the similarity of the Kani festivities in another place conducted during the same time of the year. Bernard pointed me in a diametrically opposite direction and I will leave that for a second detailed study. Now where could we see the similarity? Well, for that you have to go westward, to the Iranian Scythian regions and observe how they celebrate their New Year day or Nau Roz. Interestingly they have a very similar function on their New Year dawn and it is called Hafta seen or Hafta Sin.

As I explain the event, you will see the remarkable similarity, though we know now that the early settlers in Malabar around the end of the Perumal era were a handful of Syrian Catholics, some Jews and some Armenians, and of course the Arabs and Moplah’s amongst the Nairs, Namboothiris, Pulayans etc. All this is clear but for the one aspect which continues to fascinate writers and researchers as to where the Nairs came from and also questioning their ‘different’ customs. Did they arrive with peculiar customs or did they adopt these customs from somebody else? Why so? Does this coincidence of customs in the Persian regions and Malabar have anything to do with each other? As I said before, we shall endeavor to see if there is a link by studying the similarities.

So as you can imagine, the astronomical Persian calendar begins its New Year on the day when the equinox occurs before apparent noon roughly around the 21st of March.

While the equinox is in March (based on tropical astrology) in Europe the Vishu is in April in Malabar and the difference is explained by the fact that Indian astrologers use what is known as Sidereal astrology based on true constellations – now that is a rather complex subject by itself which I will not drag you, the reader into, so don’t be alarmed..

The origin of Norouz dates back to events celebrated for at least 3,000 years. Preceding both Christianity and Islam, it dates back to the beginning of the Zoroastrian religion. One thing that is very interesting about Norouz is that it has appeared and reappeared multiple times in the history of the Persian Empire. During the Sassanid Empire (226-650 A.D.) the celebration of Norouz flourished. This era celebrated Norouz by holding special rituals and ceremonies in the court where the “King handed out precious gifts to the treasury and distributed other gifts among the audience”. Today it is still practiced on Nau Roz in Persia and neighboring countries. On this day, the people of the old Persian lands, all those who celebrate the nau roz or new year start their day with what they call a Hafta seen. Haft Sîn or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals called Amesha Sepanta protecting them .Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a Haft Sīn table as they can, as it is not only of traditional and spiritual value, but also noticed by visitors during Nowruzi visitations and is a reflection of their good taste. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later.

The main Haft Sīn items are: wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth, a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence, the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love, garlic - symbolizing medicine, apples - symbolizing beauty and health, sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise, vinegar - symbolizing age and patience. The Haft Sin table again is prepared only by women. Nowadays they have many more items, like the holy books, flowers and so on, listed below making the table look quite similar to the Vishu Kani in Malabar. Now they include the fragrant hyacinth flower - symbolizing the coming of spring, coins - symbolizing prosperity, Pastries such as baklava , toot white berries, dried nuts, berries and raisins, lit candles symbolizing enlightenment and happiness, a mirror, Sweet mint syrup, decorated eggs, water with a bitter orange in it symbolizing Earth "floating" in space and a poetry book, such as the or a religious text. As you can see, the flowers, the seeds, the mirror, the coins, the gift giving, the new cloth etc are striking similarities.

And we could compare the Chal Pooja of Palghat which I mentioned before with the different types of seeds etc, to early nau roz celebrations in Persia, where twenty-five days before New Year, 12 large cylindrical shaped containers made from raw brick were erected in the city centre. Different seeds were planted in each including wheat, barley, lentils and rice. On the sixth day of Farvardin, the new growths were pulled out and scattered around with music, songs and dancing. Abu- rayhan Biruni the celebrated Iranian scientist in his book; Asar al-Bagheyeh states, that this was done to estimate the growth of various seeds for the new season and to know how good a crop they could expect in the coming year. All the people also used to grow seven seeds in their own homes. Pretty much similar in concept with the Vishu Chal furrow celebration.

But then all this provides is an obscure link between Zoraster, early Persia and a the Vishu in early Malabar. We see that the new cloth, the seeds, the mirror, the fruits, the flowers (though a different color) the money giving after the kani, the holy book etc are pretty similar. So is there a connection? Well, Nau Roz or new day became popular in the entire Scythian region, a place Nair’s as some historians say are said to originate from. To sum up that theory, the Nairs have also been classified as of Indo-Scythian (Saka) origin. After the Saka or Indo-Scythian people invaded India in the second century BC, some Nagas mixed with the Scythians in North India. They adopted the Matriarchy, Polyandry and other Scythian customs. They migrated southwards and reached Malabar, where they fought with the Villavars and defeated them. Later they established their own kingdoms in Malabar and Tulu Nadu. The Nagas finally reached Travancore, the Southern most part of India.But this is all quite tenuous, and difficult to establish even with some genetic pointers. People who are interested in such matters may read my article on the ‘origins of nairs’.

As the research went on, I tried to check out on the Kani konna tree or the Amalata. Did it perhaps originate elsewhere? The tree and its flower are so essential on that Vishu day and mostly useless for the rest of the year these days, though it did have some pharmaceutical (laxative) uses once upon a time. A tree that was called rajataru or kings tree, uncommonly beautiful when in flower, few surpassing the elegance of its long pendulous racemes of large bright yellow flowers intermixed with the young bright green foliage (Roxburgh – Flora Indica). This is the Konna, the golden shower tree or the cassia fistula - the Indian laburnum. Interestingly the tree is mentioned in ancient Chinese and Japanese texts, and also in Arab books as the Indian Carob – Xarnub Hindi. Well, it appears it has been very common in Egypt in olden times (taken these from India), and the Persians imported the pods both from Egypt & India. Was it perhaps far more important an export then than today? It is certainly mentioned in ancient Greek, Roman, Arab, Chinese & Persian medicine. Was it perhaps a source of much revenue to the ancient people of Malabar, in addition to providing the bright spark on the New Year day for a relatively serious group of people? I would not be surprised.
And then it took me through yet another migration route, as explained in a paper set by Dr Samar Abbas. According to him and other researchers the ancient Pallava dynasty is considered to be of Persian decent. As it goes, the Pallavas were a northern tribe of Parthian origin constituting a clan of the nomads having come to India from Persia. Unable to settle down in northern India they continued their movements southward until they reached Kanchipuram. But the Pallava people as such had nothing to do with Vishu celebrations anyway and there were no Persians in Malabar to create a significant influence. So the origin of Vishu remains elusive though there are significant similarities between Haft Seen and Vishu kani and Zoroastrian NauRoz and Vishu. Or could it have been that one group settle ddown in Kachi whereas the other veered through and down the Northern mountain passes into what is Malabar? Likely as well, if the above theory holds forte.


Part 2 will check out the similarities of Vishu with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Pics - from the web, thanks to the owners.


Happy Kitten said...

That was a handful!

nd I need to read again!

but I never knew that even the Nairs have a mixed lineage.. so I guess only a few tribals in Kerala can claim to be an original malayalee!

hope you had a great Vishu! it was only during my TVM days that I ever rcvd "kaineetam"... :)


As usual, a very informative and interesting post. The point about Nairs and Pallavas coming from the same Scythia is very interesting.

harimohan said...

hey maddy as usual barely known and intresting facts in ur post

Soorya said...

Very interesting read! Loved the Vishu Kani- Haft Sin comparison.
I always used to wonder why only Onam and Vishu used to bring the Keralites into a festive mood.
Hope you had a great Vishu.

P.N. Subramanian said...

It was really a treat. The comparison between Nowroz and Vishu was meaningful. Happy Vishu though belated.

Sunita Mohan said...

How curious that the lone brahmin is considered an inauspicious sight on Vishu day. I wonder how that started.
As always your posts are crammed with so much of information that it prompts me to do a bit of digging too. Perfect brain food! I had absolutely no idea about the Persian - Pallava connection.

Calicut Heritage Forum said...

Vishu is the new year according to the Indian solar calendar, based on the Surya Siddhanta. Bengalis celebrate the same day as their nobo barsho called Poila Baishakh. So do other communities in South Asia like Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Nepal, apart from the Indian states of Orissa, Assam, Manipur, etc.But, the similarity between Vishukkani and Haft Seen is intriguing!
The link between Pallavas and Nairs is also quite interesting. As you may know, there is a theory that the Nairs of Valluvanad descended from the Pallavas. Maybe further research is called for.

Maddy said...

Hi HK..
That is just one theory - but sure, there are indicators and logic indicates there is a strong possibility..Yes, you are right - only the Pulayars constituted the original Malayalars according to some historians & anthropologists..

yes, we had a good Vishu dinner..thanks

Maddy said...

thanks - are you back home now? yeah the pallava - nair link is one that needs further investigation..

Maddy said...

Thanks Hari, Sorrya and PNS..

glad you enjoyed reading this..

Maddy said...

Thanks Sunita..

So many such stories & relationships exist - for everybody to see, if they looked, I guess..I hope I can bring many more such stories to all of you...

Maddy said...

Thanks CHF - I am working on the Chinese aspect as well..but yes, the Pallava - Valluvanada, Nayak, Nair theory is another that deserves some deeper thought & investigation..and anthropological analysis requires sharper tools than I possess!!! But I will try nevertheless...

Maddy said...

Sunita - I forgot to reply you about the Otta pattar story. It is an intriguing one, something to do with Narada who was met by Ganesha while on a trip - and it is doubly inauspicious if that lone Brahman asks you where you are bound.

Ashvin said... for more information on the various theories on the origin of the caste...

Mads, I don't remember the chal pooja thing happening at our place, wish I could ask my grandmother :-(

I was telling Nebu about nayadis and he had never heard of them... can you believe in this day and age we still have them coming to the outermost gate and calling 'Lechmi thamburattiye' for my grandmother then stay out of sight (since their sight is polluting) while we place rice, clothes and money outside the gate... then they literally sing praises before leaving (if we dont give them alms, nayadi's praakku or curses are believed to ruin the family)....

Sad.... but hopefully this is one tradition that is and will die out

Vijay said...


Thank you so much for following up on my note to you on the Vishu- Nau Roz connection. As it happened, I was talking about Vishu Kani to someone who said, "You know what, the Iranians do exactly the same thing!". She then started describing their customs. I told her, "There's one person who can shed light on this" and shot you off the note. I, however, didn't expect this much insight so soon. Thanks again.

My twisted logic said...

NIce post maddy......It brought me back to my old days, we used to eagerly wait for vishu, vishu kaineetam, new clothes and also beginning of Sreeramaswami temple festival in my home town Thalassery.I always ask this question how and why we our culture is so different from other southern states.

gnosis said...

Very interesting article.

You made the statement: "... and there were no Persians in Malabar to create a significant influence" and I think that may be too absolute.

After all, the "Pahlavi-inscribed" crosses of the Nasrani Christians demonstrates that people who wrote in a Persian language were present in Malabar.

As well, the report of Cosmas Indicopleates mentions Persians in "Male" which some take to be Malabar based on the description he gave.

And there are Pahlavi signatures on some of the copper plate cheppads possess by the Nasranis.

I don't make the claim that the Nasranis per se brought Vishu to Kerala --- your Nair-as-Scythian hypothesis sounds better --- but I merely wanted to point out that Persians (or at least people who wrote in Pahlavi) were present in Malabar.

Thanks for your very interesting articles. The one on Nilakasi is particularly fascinating and enlightening, as is this one.

Maddy said...

thanks gnosis..

I agree that the Persians had some influence, just as you said, but what I wrote was 'and there were no Persians in Malabar to create a significant influence'. When I meant influence, i meant influence enough to establish or change an universal custom. as we know the people of Kerala have stuck firmly to their customs & beliefs even if the rest of the kingdoms around were totally different.

Unknown said...

Awesome Sir, thanks for the link between NowRoz and Vishu.

I had read that Scythians are famous warriors. Did it trickle down to NAirs alo as they were known to be warriors?

Anyays really crazy to think that I MIGHT trace my ancestry to Darius, Cyrus, Arash, Xerxes and Khomeni's land.

On second thoughts, I am happy to be a thouroughbred Mallu from Kerala.

Maddy said...

hi Briggs..

i had mentioned something about this in my historic alleys blog on the origin of nairs. there is no real proof, but remember that there was much migration ages ago..

sree_dharam said...


Unknown said...

One common thread among almost all civilisations is that the traditional New Years started in Spring, though they may not fall exactly on the vernal equinox.

The Mesopotamian and Assryian New Years were on April 1st. The Jewish adopted the Mesopotamian calendar so even tough they celebrate their New Year in Autumn, their calendar begins in the month of Nisan (Mesopotamian / Assryian month of same name). Nevertheless they celebrate that month as "Passover"

Indian states of Maharashtra, AP and Karnataka have their new years around March 21st. The states of TN, Bengal, Punjab(?), Orissa celebrate on April 13/14.

Countries linked to India culturally at least in the distand past celebrate on April 13-14, namely Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma, Thailand and Laos.

You have already mentioned about Navroz.

Funnily, Chinese new year celebrated in January is called as "Spring Festival".

The biggest irony of all is the Western New year. Even though Jan 1st happens in Winter, historically March was the first month of Roman calendar and January and February were added later.

I could not research how the pre-Columbian American civilisations celebrated their new years.

But I felt, a Spring New Year is or was a common factor in all calendars.

Maddy said...

thanks ramanan..
yes, what you say makes a lot of sense..

arjun sagar said...

Equinox happens on March 20/21. The word 'Vishuvam' means equal. And we celebrate Vishu on 14 April, a difference of 24-25 days!
How does this actually happen?
Could you please explain it, elaborately.

I saw you said about Sidereal astrology based on true constellations. What is that?


Ravi said...

Interesting hypothesis, Maddy...but perhaps there is an alternate one that can be considered. The Namboodiris have retained some of the oldest Aryan traditions, and the idea of Vishu (equal days - equal nights) comes from Sanskrit...and since the Vedic Aryans and the Avestan Persians were from the same Indo-Aryan branch, it could be the simplest explanation for the Vishu tradition.
What do you think?

Shashi said...

Civilization had spread from Africa to all parts of Asia and all over the planet since 20,000 bc or even earlier than that.During the Indus,Sumerian,Egyptian,Babylonian Assyrian and Persian empires from 3000 bc the Negroid people who developed civilization came to me ruled by a numerically lesser people of white skins. A true knowledge of the science of nature was the basis of civilization.During the course of time this knowledge was corrupted among all tribes except a tribe called Bharatas. These people were a part of the above cited empires. It is speculated that around 700 bc the Bharata tribe along with many other tribes migrated from West Asia towards the Ganga Yamuna doab area with their knowledge of the science of nature and flourished. This flourishing was the great Hindu civilisation. As the Egyptian,Babylonean,Greek and Hindu astrology came from the same source, solstices and equinoxes were parts of their religions.The kings,emperors and sages mentioned in the Hindu puranas actually lived in the above cited empires. The Magadha empire is one and the same as Persian,Babylonian and Assyrian empire. Please read Makers of civilization in history and race, Ages in Chaos, A new Non-Johnesian history of the world and the six thousand year barrier all available on the net. there was a charriot festival in Babylonia in 1000 bc similar to the present day Puri Jagannath charriot festival.

Maddy said...

thanks Arjun,
I am sorry I got to the reply so late, i missed the comment for some inexplicable reason.As I mentioned,
Vishu follows the sidereal vernal equinox and generally falls on April 14 of the Gregorian year in Kerala, one of the few festivals based on the solar calendar.
Let me borrow from wikipedia for the time being to be quick and as it is a complex topic..

Sidereal and tropical are astrological terms used to describe two different definitions of a "year". They are also used as terms for two systems of ecliptic coordinates used in astrology.Both divide the ecliptic into a number of "signs" named after constellations, but while the sidereal system defines the signs based on the fixed stars, the tropical system defines it based on the position of vernal equinox (i.e., the intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial equator). Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the two systems do not remain fixed relative to each other but drift apart by about 1.4 arc degrees per century. The tropical system was adopted during the Hellenistic period and remains prevalent in Western astrology. A sidereal system is used in Hindu astrology, and in some 20th century systems of Western astrology.While classical tropical astrology is based on the orientation of the Earth relative to the Sun and planets of the solar system, sidereal astrology deals with the position of the Earth relative to both of these as well as the stars of the celestial sphere.
Traditional Hindu astrology is based on the sidereal or visible zodiac, accounting for the shift of the equinoxes by a correction called ayanamsa. The difference between the Vedic and the Western zodiacs is currently around 24 degrees. This corresponds to a separation of about 1,700 years, when the vernal equinox was approximately at the center of the constellation Aries ("First Point of Aries"), and the tropical and sidereal zodiacs coincided (around AD 290, or at 23.86° as of 2000). The separation is believed to have taken place in the centuries following Ptolemy (second century AD), apparently going back to Indo-Greek transmission of the system. But earlier Greek astronomers like Eudoxus spoke of a vernal equinox at 15° in Aries, while later Greeks spoke of a vernal equinox at 8° and then 0° in Aries, which suggests the use of a sidereal zodiac in Greece before Ptolemy and Hipparchus

Maddy said...

Thanks Shashi..
interesting theory/speculation..let me study this in more detail and revert..

Nandi said...

I like this article and given a link in my "vipanisangeetham" blog.

Nandi said...

Arjun said : Equinox happens on March 20/21. The word 'Vishuvam' means equal. And we celebrate Vishu on 14 April, a difference of 24-25 days!
How does this actually happen?
Could you please explain it, elaborately."
Kerala particularly Malabar is 11 degree north of equinox and the Sun is top of our head only after 23 days and days and night becomes equal. In the noon we stand on the shadow of our head !!!. On that day the Sun moves to Aries from Pisces.

Maddy said...

Thanks nandi,
I will write an article on this someday, but for now let me provide you some links which may provide you an answer

Jayesh Menon said...

Great work Maddy
Nostalgic,informative, and given motivation for further informative reading
Great work

Nandi said...

Great Maddy, you also love music and provided a seperate section in your blog. please go through my "vipanisangeetham" ( today's post and Vishu greetings posts from 2010 to know my thoughts on Vishu. thanks in advance

Maddy said...

thanks nandi
I will take a look and comment

Maddy said...

thanks jayesh..
nice hearing from you

sekarguru said...

Maddy sir, great. Best of luck.

Maddy said...

thanks sekarguru..

Naveenkumar K.U said...

Very well written article. Appreciate your sincere efforts. However, would like to make the following points:

Branding certain festivals as aryan and certain as dravidian dont seem to be factually correct (at least with regards to onam and vishu). The reasons are explained below:

1. Onam - celebrating the return of mahabali or coming of vamana, is observed in maharstra on the third day of divali (a full one month before onam). So, it was not just limited to kerala (allegedly dravidian).

2. Trying to trace roots of Vishu with Navroz seems to be a bit far-fetched (the obvious similarities are acknowledged), especially when the same spring festival is celebrated in other parts of India in a very similar fashion. For example, bihu is assam (not dravidian at all). Not to mention that the konna flower (Cassia fistula) is called as xonaru in assamese. Doesn't the names of the festival and flower sound similar?

By the way, the whole aryan invasion theory (yes it was always a theory) is being doubted by its most intransigent apostles themselves. Romila Thapar herself has come forward with her scepticisms on the theory.

Maddy said...

thanks naveenkumar..
for your interesting comment.
as you may have noticed this was a trip to compare the two festivals and their similarities, not with a purpose to establish a definite link or trace migration. That is a route which requires so much more work...

The Observer said...

There is no doubt that Nawroz (Nawa = new) and Vishu had a common origin! Both are spring festivals. Closely connected to the Sun crossing the equator. And Persians celebrated it as the new beginning of the year after a long winter, finally ending up as The New Year itself. In Kerala also Vishu is indeed the new year (same day celebrated as Tamil New Year's day!). Onam took over as the new year's day at a later time in history .. we do not know when and why! Vishu phalam is still practiced by many.

And added connection which the Western world do not like to mix is the fact Easter come from the same! Spring festival was conveniently converted by Christianity at a certian period in time to Easter§ A Unesco site by Italian anthropologist Salvatore D’Onofrio touch upon the similarities !

Malathi said...

A friend posted a Navroze picture which looked very similar to the Vishu kani. It led me on an interesting search that landed me here. Very informative post. Am fascinated! Thank you

Maddy said...

Thanks, observer
thanks, Malathi...