Nostalgic Malayalee expats kept their traditions alive for one more time. On Friday, the Malayalee community across the UAE celebrated Vishu or the Kerala New Year in a spectacular fashion.
The celebrations started with the traditional ritual, Vishukkani – the first morning sight of harvest and wealth – that includes an elaborate arrangement of fruits, vegetables, gold coins and mirror among others.
Smitha Nair, a resident of Abu Dhabi, had made all arrangements before waking up her daughter, Shruti, early in the morning. She led her with eyes closed only to be opened in front of the vishukkani.
“Observing such traditions help keep the next generation in touch with the culture of our land,” she said. Shruti also got vishu kaineetam (token money given by parents or elders) from her father Sreekanth. “This day brings nostalgic feelings. Luckily, it is Friday and we can all be together,” he said.
A majestic vishukkani was placed at LuLu Hypermarket in Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre. “The arrangement has more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables making this the biggest vishukkani so far. It may weigh between 250-300kg,” Balakrishnan M, deputy general manager, said. “We have thousands clicking selfies and photos right from the morning.”
The afternoon saw families get together for the grand vishu sadhya (feast). For busy parents, parcels or eating out was the order of the day. Restaurants like Calicut Notebook in
Abu Dhabi had more than 1,000 guests and over 600 parcels.
“We had a slight doubt about numbers with Good Friday fasting but we have had more guests than last year,” the staff said.
For many Indian expats like Rakesh Mishra, a Mussafah worker, such festivities present an opportunity to learn new things about the diversity of his home country.
“I am from Bihar and was unaware about such south Indian festivals. We come to the city once a week but today each and every restaurant was packed with Keralites. It’s nice to see all festivals being celebrated even away from home.”