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

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

Like many of his brethren, writer 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 go as simply one other odd day in our lives. “After all, when the loss of life toll (from the Coronavirus) balloons by the day and concern engulfs throughout, I have no idea how we are able to rejoice Vishu. I consider 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 writer 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 can 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 at all times grand in Kozhikode, KP Sudheera’s dwelling city, she says that celebration is the very last 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 fundamental because it may get with what was accessible — a sprig of Konnappoo (laburnum), a coconut, a hand of bananas, a ‘kani-vellarikka’, the necessary mirror, mundu, rice, gold and cash. And since I reside alone in my cottage, I might gentle the lamp with half-closed eyes and open them vast 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 suppose apples and grapes grew in Kerala so why on earth would that seem in the kani plate?”

However, this yr, Anita is in Bengaluru together 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 will probably be no konnappoo or kani vellarikka however as the superhero in heaven is a good one for irony, there will probably be apples and grapes for that’s what’s accessible. In my library, there are books and work, music and vegetation and the whole lot that I hope my yr will probably be blessed with. And this yr, 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 writer 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 mother and father’ dwelling 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 potential, final yr, 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 similar 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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