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Poila Baisakh celebrated, Keralites mark ‘Vishu’ with fervour

Jamshedpur, April 14: As always, New Year means new hopes and new ventures and people will be in their high spirits to celebrate the occasion.

The Bengalis celebrated Poila Baisakh – the Bengali New Year. A number of programmes were organised by different committees in the city.

The day started on a ritualistic note. Members of all Bengali families woke up before dawn to offer prayers to Goddess Durga for the well-being of one and all. “I prayed that I get selected in the medical entrance examination,” said Mouli Ghosh, a young girl who came for the cultural evening.

The cultural programmes included short plays, solo singing and dance performances. Like any other Indian festivals which are incomplete without its specific cuisine, a special fish curry was relished by members of the community.

For the people of God’s Own Country, New Year celebrations was momentous one. Vishu, the beginning of the Malayalee calendar, ushered in with every member in the household waking up early in the morning and looking into a mirror, which has been decorated with ornaments, new clothes, rice and other traditional items. Uttara Dharma Saastha Temple organised a special puja ceremony to mark the occasion.

Both young and alike indulged in merry making during the celebrations starting with ”Vishukani” as per tradition with the belief good things seen on the New Year day brings good luck for the entire year. ”We got together to create awareness among our childrenso that they carried forward our traditions”, said another official of the temple.

Then Vishu Kaineetam was held wherein an elderly person gave small amount of cash as gift to children who wore in their best clothes. A grand feast was organised with special dishes prepared using jack fruit, mangoes and pumpkins.

The foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoo rasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazha pachadi (a sour mango soup).

It is believed that looking at gold at the beginning of the year would bring in prosperity, said Meena Nair, a school teacher. One things that most Malayalees, especially the children, look forward to is the kai neetam, where youngsters seek the blessing of elders, who bless the minors and give them some money.

For the kids this is the day to swell their pocket money as it is a custom in the Hindu households to give a ‘vishukaineetam’ (a gift) to the younger ones in the family.

“Gone are the days when just a few coins would have been enough for this traditional ritual. Today, the kids are demanding. Days before the festival, they start pestering the elders,” said Deepak Nair, a father.

The traditional lunch is served on a plantain leaf. While in the southern districts a pure vegetarian lunch is served, in the northern parts emphasis is given to non-vegetarian items.

Reading verses from Hindu Holy book Ramayanam after seeing the “Vishukkani” is considered auspicious. It is also believed that the page of the Ramayanam which you open up to will have a bearing on your life in the coming year.

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