Thanks to an old neighbour, who was our babysitter for my daughter, now her god-mum, friend, I got to learn about the Malayalees celebrating their New Year with the Vishunite 2007 at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre on 21 Apr 2007.
Mention Kreta Ayer People's Theatre and chances are it will be showing Cantonese Opera, and other Chinese shows. But this night, another ancient tradition and art has taken over. To many Singaporeans, they might still not really know about the Malayalees, just as other Singaporeans trying to know the Hokkiens and Cantonese.
Borrowing the notes from the Vishukkani 2007, the Singapore Malayalee Hindu Samajam
Publication, in the article on Vishu, Reshma Rajesh wrote that, "Vishu is a unique Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. Vishu is the first day of the Malayalam month of "Medam", which falls in the month of April. Vishu is considered to be the New Year for the people of Kerala."
The first thing that the people of Kerala see on this special day is the "Vishukani" which is for prosperity and good luck all year through. In temples also the Vishukanni will be arranged. Some people refer to see the vishu kanni in temples. According to the Hindu tradition, the Vishukani will have a lamp lighted in front of Lord Krishna, gold, money, fruits, a clean white cloth called "Kasava Mundu", rice grains, yellow flowers known as Konna (Cassia fistula), jackfruit, a mirror, betel leaves, coconut halved and yellow cucumber.
Young members of the family are given gifts and "kaineetam" that is a small amount of money which is supposed to bring prosperity all year through.
Dressed in their best, many Malayalees congregated at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre for the show, performed by amateurs as well as professional dancers. Artistes from India were also invited to perform in the show. Tradition runs strong and deep in this community in Singapore!