Thiruvananthapuram: Devout Hindus on Saturday heralded Vishu, the Kerala New Year, with traditional cultural fervour with people visiting temples in the morning. Crowds gathered at the famed Sabarimala, Guruvayoor, Sree Padmanabha Swamy temples since early morning.

The most important event of the day starts with the 'Vishukani darshan' , the auspicious sight of their favourite deity. In Hindu homes, preparations for 'Vishukani' starts the night before with cleaning of 'urali' (a special vessel) and collecting fresh farm produces.

The items that are placed include rice, grains, cucumber, pumpkin, coconut, plantains, mangoes and arecanut. These are arranged in the worship room that is decorated with konna flowers (cassia fistula).

The young and old come blindfold in front of the Vishukani that is placed in front of their favourite deity and see it as the day's first sight. For the kids this is the day to swell their pocket money as it is a custom in the Hindu households to give a 'vishukaineetam' (a gift) to the younger ones in the family.

'Gone are the days when just a few coins would have been enough for this traditional ritual. Today, the kids are demanding. Days before the festival, they start pestering the elders,' said Subadra Nair, a grandmother.

The traditional lunch is served on a plantain leaf. While in the southern districts a pure vegetarian lunch is served, in the northern parts emphasis is given to non-vegetarian items.