Malayalam writers on celebrating Vishu that falls in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown


It is once more that time of the 12 months when the laburnum blooms in golden cascades and Vishu, the spring pageant, is noticed in many Malayali properties round the world. However, this 12 months, the pageant, which celebrates the bounty of nature, can be in the middle of a lockdown to cease and gradual the unfold of COVID-19. So the celebrations are muted and in empathy with these battling the pandemic.

Like many of his brethren, creator Susmesh Chandroth, working with a visible media manufacturing agency in Kolkata, was planning to go to Kerala throughout the pageant. “But all that has been put off now. For Malayalis, Vishu in 2020 will be unlike any we have experienced in the last 100 years or so,” says Susmesh.

Susmesh Chandroth  
| Photo Credit: PV SUJITH

Writer and scenarist Unni R feels that maybe, for the first time in the historical past of Kerala, this Vishu will move as simply one other odd day in our lives. “After all, when the demise toll (from the Coronavirus) balloons by the day and worry engulfs throughout, I have no idea how we are able to rejoice Vishu. I imagine it might be a beneficiant and delightful gesture to curtail the elaboration of our customary sadya on the day and think about it a meal that may be shared with somebody who could also be in want of it this time,” he believes.

Unni R

The Meesha creator and screenplay author S Hareesh factors out that these are all man-made customs and practices. “At present, places of worship are out of bounds for most people. This year, the Haj has been withheld and the Thrissur Pooram will be held only as a ritual without the pomp and pageantry associated with it. Last year, there were many who were agitated because they were worried that elephants may not be paraded as part of the Pooram. It would be nice if people remember that it is we who create all these festivals and traditions.”

S Hareesh

He says he himself may have a easy home-made vegetarian sadya. “I don’t have this practice of arranging a Vishukkani (when vegetables and seasonal fruits are arranged in a bowl in the pooja room) and I will continue that practice,” he provides.

Although Vishu celebrations are all the time grand in Kozhikode, KP Sudheera’s residence city, she says that celebration is the final thing on her thoughts this time. “Although Kerala is tackling the pandemic in a good way, I am worried about the lakhs of people across the world who are battling the virus. I can empathise with the plight of non-resident Malayalis who look forward to Vishu and the summer vacation to come home to meet their families,” she explains.

KP Sudheera

Anita Nair says that for the final two years, she had spent Vishu in her cottage in her village at Mundakottukkurussi in Palakkad district. “It was as primary because it may get with what was obtainable — a sprig of Konnappoo (laburnum), a coconut, a hand of bananas, a ‘kani-vellarikka’, the obligatory mirror, mundu, rice, gold and cash. And since I stay alone in my cottage, I’d gentle the lamp with half-closed eyes and open them broad to see the ‘kani’. My caretaker there, Sundaran, was the first one that I noticed on Vishu day for the final two years. I bear in mind him asking me why I didn’t have apples and grapes in the ‘kani’ plate. And I bear in mind telling him that I didn’t assume apples and grapes grew in Kerala so why on earth would that seem in the kani plate?”

However, this 12 months, Anita is in Bengaluru along with her husband and son “who are both atheists and late risers [in all honesty, I don’t know which is worse with reference to Vishu] and so I intend to see my kani in my library.” She provides: “Only this time there can be no konnappoo or kani vellarikka however as the superhero in heaven is a superb one for irony, there can be apples and grapes for that’s what’s obtainable. In my library, there are books and work, music and crops and every thing that I hope my 12 months can be blessed with. And this 12 months, I’m going to strive making my ela ada with all-spice leaves…as any Malayali will let you know, we’re the masters and mistresses of making do. And so it shall be.”

Anita Nair

Translator, tutorial and creator J Devika writes in an e-mail: “I must confess that I do not plan to celebrate Vishu at all. In our region, Vishu and other festivals still mostly mark the rhythm of seasons and the agricultural calendar that accompanied it. Climate change ensures that this rhythm is now broken, the agricultural calendar is non-existent simply because we have turned away from farming!”

J Devika

Anita remembers that on the day of Vishu in Kerala, she used to go throughout to her dad and mom’ residence to see them. “We haven’t any extra fields and I haven’t seen a plough in years. Nevertheless, in my effort to be as conventional as doable, final 12 months, I additionally made the ela ada, which is used to worship the plough.”

Susmesh provides that as a author, he has noticed that pandemics or illness outbreaks have lent themselves as stark themes for excellent literary works comparable to Albert Camus’ The Plague or Kakkanadan’s Vasoori. “Even iconic authors in Malayalam such as O V Vijayan and M T Vasudevan Nair have touched upon elements of the theme in their works. In the present context, the virus has destroyed the idea of boundaries and it highlights the need for us to stay together as a community this Vishu,” says Susmesh.

With inputs from Athira M, Harikumar J S, Priyadershini S, Saraswathy Nagarajan

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