Onam, a festival which is associated with the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu and King Mahabli, is one of the biggest festivals of Kerala. Usually, families get together to celebrate this joyous occasion and take part in activities such as Pookolam (rangoli made with fresh flowers), Vallam Kali (boat race), Pulikali (tiger dance), Onam Kali, Kummattikali (mask dance) etc. And how can there be no feast during such festivities? Well, the Onam Sadhya is an elaborate feast consisting of over 26 food preparations served on a big banana leaf. Read on to know more about Sadhya, a delectable treat that you cannot afford to miss if you are in Kerala.
What is Sadhya?
Sadhya is banquet served on the day of Onam. It usually consists of over 26 food preparations. And the number can go above 64 in the case of a large-scale arrangement. Ideally, people sit on a mat spread on the floor while having the Sadhya which is traditionally served on a banana leaf. And the food is meant to be eaten with the hands without using spoons and cutlery. Moreover, the items are served in a particular order.
A typical Sadhya would consist of steamed rice (Chor), Paruppu (boiled lentil), Sambhar, Rasam, Pulisseri, Kaalan, Olan, Avial, Thoran, Pacchadi, Erisery, Kootucurry, Pulinji, Nendran Pazhyam Upperi, Chhakarai Upperi, Banana, Pickle, Curd, Buttermilk, Papadam, Manga chutney, Nartanga pickle, Palada Pradhaman, Nai, Inji curry, Chenai Mezhukkuvarrati and Nai Payasam.
Interestingly, none of these recipes contains onions or garlic. And not surprisingly, most of these preparations consist of coconut, one of the ingredients widely used in Kerala.
This year, Onam will be celebrated on August 31. The festivities begin on the day of Atham/Hasta Nakshatra and continue for ten days till Thiruvonam, i.e. ten days before Onam. People believe that King Mahabali, who once ruled this region, visits his kingdom and his subjects on this day.