Onam, the auspicious rice festival celebrated in Kerala, holds deep cultural and traditional significance. The festival, which started on August 20 and ends on August 31 this year, commemorates the homecoming of King Mahabali/Maveli. Among the ten days of Onam celebrations, the grand feast known as “Onam Sadhya” plays a central role. Let’s delve into the history, traditions, and details of this lavish feast.
What is Onam Sadhya?
Onam Sadhya is the sumptuous feast served on the 10th day of the annual harvest festival, Onam. This vegetarian feast, also referred to as “Sadhya,” is served on a banana leaf and holds cultural and social significance. Comprising around 26 items, this multi-course meal symbolizes unity, tradition, and mythology. The feast is a culinary masterpiece that brings the community together and upholds Kerala’s heritage.
Origin of Onam Sadhya
Onam Sadhya finds its roots in Kerala’s mythology and history. It is closely tied to the legend of King Mahabali, known for his generosity. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana to curb Mahabali’s growing power. Vamana requested three paces of land from Mahabali, which expanded to encompass the cosmos. Mahabali was granted a yearly visit to his kingdom during Onam, symbolizing respect. Onam Sadhya’s lavish welcome and feast signify this annual homecoming and showcase Kerala’s cultural unity and historical reverence.
Traditions and Rituals
Onam celebrations encompass various rituals, such as Pookkalam (floral patterns), Onakalikal (festival games), Vallamkali (boat races), and more. Food, especially Onam Sadhya, holds a vital role in these festivities. The feast is served on a banana leaf laid on the floor, emphasizing equality and humility.
Onam Sadhya Delights
Onam Sadhya features a tantalizing array of 26 curries, fried vegetables, and sweets crafted from over 60 ingredients. The dishes cover diverse flavor profiles – sweet, salty, sour, and spicy – using regional elements like coconut, jaggery, yams, and lentils. Notable dishes include Pappadam, Upperi, Sharkara Varatti, Inji Curry, Mango Curry, Pachadi, Olan, Avial, Sambhar, Pulissery, Rasam, and more.
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