This photo was taken a couple of years before his death. Here Duke is enjoying the New Year display. He’s gazing into his wise brown eyes and hoping the wrapped toy is his on the far side of the table!
Has the mid-April blahs and stress got you down? Then I have a suggestion for you!
Join the millions of people from Kerala (and me) and celebrate the start of a New Year on April 14th. It is a simple ritual that will ground you and bring balance to your life. A note: While the celebration is linked to Hinduism, you don’t have to be a Hindu or even believe in God to share in this timeless ceremony.
So this is how you can get started:
On April 13th evening do the following:
- Set a small hand mirror or a larger one on a small table. Use a dresser with a built-in mirror, if you have one.
- Use a nice table cloth if you want. Totally optional.
- Add a blossom, even a sprig or branch will suffice. Yellow is auspicious for this festival.
- Next, raid your pantry for beans, lentils or rice. Place some of each in a measuring cup or fancier cups, if you have some. One cup (or less) of rice and one cup (or less) of bean/lentil is all you need.
- Look at what fresh vegetables and fruits you have available. An orange, an apple, a banana, a bunch of kale, a butternut squash? You just need one of each, something to represent a fruit and a vegetable.
- Do you have some change? A few dollars, some quarters? Add them to the table
- How about a piece of jewelry? A pair of earrings or a ring? Arrange them on the display table.
- Are you missing someone, a family member, a friend? Place a photo of them on the table. My table will have photos of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a special uncle.
- You will need a candle and some matches.
You have now created Vishu Kanni or New Year display.
On the morning of the 14th, get up and before your morning coffee (yes!), wash your face. Light the candle and sit in front of your display, if possible. Look closely at the flower or sprig, the fruits and vegetables, the grains and legumes, the nice table cloth and the coins and jewelry. Look at the photographs of your loved ones.
As you gaze at the kanni, you are welcoming everything that is good into your life and future. Finally, look at your reflection in the mirror. All that is marvelous and wonderful is reflected in your eyes. Look deep into your eyes until you see the glimmer of hope and light that is in you. Invite all that is positive, prosperous and amazing into your life and into the lives of your loved ones.
You have now observed and welcomed in a new year, Kerala style. Happy Vishu 2020!