Opening the eyes before ‘Vishu Kani’ is known as Kani Kanal – kani means ‘that which is seen first.’ A similar ritual is also observed in Tamil Nadu during Tamil New Year.
Vishukani consists of rice, kasavu mundu (traditional cloth of Kerala), gold, silver, coins, mirror (usually Aranmula Kannadi or mirror with a tail), cucumber, mango, jackfruit, coconut, banana, and Kanikonna (yellow flower known as Indian Laburnum). The Vishukani is exhibited in an ‘urali’ – a traditional vessel of Kerala made from Panchaloham (five metals). It is placed in front of an idol or portrait of Lord Krishna. Traditional Kerala lamp is lit near it.
Vishu is also known as a harvest festival; therefore fresh agricultural produce of each region becomes part of the Vishukani.
Another important event on the day is the distribution of Vishu Kaineettam – money given by elders to children and other members in the family.
‘Vishubhalam,’ or the predictions for the next year, is read on the day by astrologers. Now this tradition has been taken over by newspapers, fortnightlies and other magazines. All most all major publications come out with the predictions of the next year for each zodiac sign and nakshatras.
Earlier, the preparation for next agricultural season used to begin on the Vishu day and farmers used to plough the land on the day and it was known as ‘vishupootu.’