Low key Vishu celebrations for UAE-based Malayalis

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Dubai, April 12 (IANS) Malayali expats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will celebrate the spring festival of Vishu this year within their homes due to restrictions imposed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Sunday.

The festival of Vishu is usually celebrated with a lot of fanfare and typically sees a lavish ‘sadhya’ (meal) prepared. However, many Malayalis were opting for a simple meal this year due the crisis, the Khaleej Times report said.
A Sharjah-based expat, Sheeja Venu Nair, said: “There is no room for celebration this time. We want it to be a low-key affair. We are not preparing any grand meals. Instead, we as a family are focusing on offering the ‘Vishukkani’ (ritual arrangement of auspicious articles) for frontline medics and heathcare workers helping COVID-19 patients.”
Even though the festival won’t be as grand, the Sharjah-based family will uphold certain traditions.
“The plea for ‘kaineetam’ starts early as the children begin asking and anticipating from whom they would get money. So, while they look forward to getting some ‘kaineetam’ from their parents,” Nair added.
For Sangeetha Swaroop, Vishu at home means extra time with her family.
“Work pressure has reduced for me now, so I am trying to prepare a ‘sadhya’ for my children with whatever is available in the grocery stores. Typically, you prepare around 24-28 dishes served as a single course. But there is no point in preparing so much food as nobody from outside will be coming.”
Normally, hypermarkets across the UAE display traditional items brought from Kerala to arrange the ‘kani kanal’ (arrangements for the first sight).
“This time, I don’t think even the yellow ‘kanni konna’ flowers will be available. In fact, most people will not wear ‘kodi vastram’ (new clothes) as shops remain closed,” Sangeetha added.