Today is Vishu, the festival of prosperity and hope, the festival that promises better tomorrows as days go by. The ‘Vishu kanni’ or the coiffured ‘Omen’ is the first thing seen in the morning as the first rays of sunlight touch the earth on the Vishu day. The Vishu kanni is arranged on a bronze platter whose glory tries to reflect that of the sun. Rice, Fresh fruits and vegetables, bunches of golden Laburnum flowers, a bronze mirror, a gold bordered piece of cloth and Collyrium, are all arranged as salutations offered to Lord Vishnu, the protector.
On the eve of Vishu, our excitement would be to procure the ‘Konna Flowers’. Konna tree (Amaltas in Hindi, ‘Indian Laburnum’ in English, ‘Cassia fistula’ in Latin) is considered to symbolize Prosperity and happiness. Years back it was easy to procure the flowers since every other house had a laburnum tree. Now my parents along with millions of other malayalis feel the pinch of the changes triggered off by ‘development-gone-wrong’.
Firstly laburnum trees are hard to find in Kerala now-a-days. Secondly even if there are a few trees left….they refuse to flower during Vishu …almost like a silent indignant protest. The science fraternity claims this phenomenon of late flowering of Cassia as a product of the recent climatic changes due to global warming.
This may be just one of the many irreversible shifts in the course of nature…many of which are not readily visible and hence conveniently left unnoticed. Yet…. year after year…. the cycle goes on…. and millions of malayalis wait in vain for the laburnum to bloom in time so that they can auspicate another new year….. another year of fresh hope and good fortune.