Saturday, 6 September 2014

Onam is Coming and so Is Onasadya.......

Onam the Festival of Kerala.... The God's Own Country

Above Onam Pookalam Made by me Wife...

  • The 10 day festival starts with Attam and ends with Thiruonam (Attam Pathinnu Thiruonam) in the month of Chingam (Leo) 
  • The Festival of Vibration, Variety, Variation, Vividity. 
  • The Festival of togetherness, of Unity, of Prosperity.
  • Display of Various Culture, traditions and customs of Kerala.
  • A festival where all Poor and Rich from different castes and religion celebrate together, drive away pride, ego and prejudice.
  • A Festival dedicated for the greatest King Kerala ever had in whose rule all were happy and merry our very OWN KING MAVELLI.

     Ahh.. what a good name 'ONAM' don't you love saying it again and again. As a Malayalee born out of Kerala, i have celebrating this great festival from my childhood. The festival that is a identity of every Malayalee is, the reason why he is known is because wherever he goes he takes his Malayalee culture along with him.

         If a Malayalee is not seen celebrating this Festival is no a Malayalee he is only worth a 'Moron'

       So what is the Legend of Onam, well all Malayalee knows it for and need not tell them but for those who dont know what this great festival stands for & for them, Here it is:

The Legend of Onam.....

Long time back, i mean too Long ago that is even before 4000 B.C, o.k i dont want to calculate let me put it this way many 4000 B.C's back there lived a very powerful King called the great 'King Mahabali' who was very learned and very popular amongst his people for his excellent administration. The people of Kerala loved him very much and so did he. Kerala under his rule soon became a very rich and developed nation with people satisfied and happy abundant resources. 

The people of Kerala never forgot the gratitude and in dedication to this great legend 'KING MAHABALI' the festival of Onam is celebrated with great pomp and fun fare. 

"Onam celebrates the visit of King Mahabali to Kerala every year. King Mahabali is also popularly called Maveli and Onathappan. "

Mahabali was the son of Veerochana and grandson of Prahlad, the devout son of demon King Hiranyakashyapu. King Mahabali was an ardent worshiper of Lord Vishnu, his bravery and strength of character earned him the title of "Mahabali Chakravathy" or Mahabali - the King of Kings. 

The gods get Jealous:

        With the growing popularity and fame of King Mahabali increasing every year the Gods in heaven became extremely concerned and jealous. They felt threatened about their own supremacy and began to think of a strategy to get rid of the dilemma.

Lord Indra

          To curb the growing reign of Mahabali and maintain God's own supremacy, Lord Indra the King of Gods seeked help of Lord Vishnu whom Mahabali worshiped.

       It was said Mahabali was very generous and charitable. Whenever anybody approached him for help or requested for anything he always granted. To test the King, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf and a poor Brahmin called Vamana. He came to the Kingdom of Mahabali, just after Mahabali performed his morning prayers and was preparing to grant boons to Brahmins.

King Mahabali & Onam

Lord Vishnu takes Vamana Avatar

       Disguised as Vamana, Vishnu said he was a poor Brahmin and asked for a piece of land. The generous King said, he could have as much land as he wanted. The Brahmin said that he just wanted as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The King was surprised to hear but agreed.

Lord Vamana

         A learned adviser of the King, Shukracharya sensed that Vamana was not an ordinary person and warned the King against making the promise. But, the generous King replied that it would be a sin for a King to back on his words and asked the Brahmin to take the land. The King could not imagine that the dwarf Brahmin was Lord Vishnu himself.


     Just as King Mahabali agreed to grant the land, Vamana began to expand and eventually increased himself to the size of cosmic proportions. With his first step the Brahmin boy covered the whole of earth and with the other step he covered the whole of the skies. He then asked King Mahabali where is the space for him to keep his third foot.

       The King realised that he was no ordinary Brahmin and his third step will destroy the earth. Mahabali with folded hands bowed before Vamana and asked him to place his last step on his head so that he could keep the promise. The Brahmin placed his foot on the head of the King, which pushed him to patala, the nether world. There the King requested the Brahmin to reveal his true identity. Lord Vishnu then appeared before the King in his person. The Lord told the King that he came to test him and the King won the test. King Mahabali was pleased to see his lord. Lord Vishnu also granted a boon to the King.

King Mahabali Requests for a Visit to Kerala

      After sending Mahabali to Patala, the King requests the Lord to be allowed to visit his country at least once in a year. his wish was duly granted, he also blessed the King and said even after losing all his worldly possessions, the King would always be loved by Lord Vishnu and his people.

      So every year true to his words the KING visits his nation the Land of the gods Own Country, the Cultural Hub of India the pride of all Malayalees KERALA and he comes attired in his royal costume and comes to all house in Kerala where Malayalee family lives in Peace and harmony and their veranda decorated with Onam Pookalam a flower design. He visits those homes and blesses them for peace and prosperity to prevail in their homes.

Thamburan Mahabali.

     The festival is celebrated as a tribute to the sacrifice of King Mahabali. Every year people make elaborate preparations to welcome their King whom they affectionately call 'Onathappan'. They wish to please the spirit of their King by depicting that his people are happy and wish him well. Thiruvonam is the biggest and the most important day of this festival. It's also believed that King Mahabali visits his people on this day.


For those who dont know Onam here's a Glance....

Traditional Wear of Kerala..

Mohiniattam: Traditional dance of Kerala

Chenda Melam: Drum Orchestra of Kerala

Elephant Procession

Yeah you guessed right: Two Bruce Lee's Fighting.

Kayyinkalli: A free style Wresting played during Onam.

Snake Boat Race

The Royal Feast: ONASADYA

       This is my Kerala, and it's main festival 'ONAM'. We are proud of our Culture and it's Heritage. Yet in this modern world with nuclear families, it only the occasion of Onam where families from remote area come and meet together and stay as a large unit as it was used to be about 100 years back when a House consisted of around 50 to 70 members living in a large house, it used to be a large joint family, now we dont see this in Kerala as many have gone abroad to America and Gulf and the young generation preferring to stay separately, joint family system in Kerala is dead off late.

Onam in Kerala and all over the World:

        Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

      Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.

       For the malayalees it is indeed a lot more than being a festival. Onam reflects the faith of the people of Kerala; it's belief in their legendary past, a religion and power of worship. It shows the high spirit of the people who go out of the way to celebrate the festival in the prescribed manner and a grand fashion.

        Onam is also a festival of harvest. It is celebrated at a time when everything appears so nice and good. The beautiful landscape of Kerala can be seen in its full radiance at this time of the Malayalam New Year. Weather, it seems, also seeks to be a part of the festival. It contributes by becoming pleasantly warm and sunny. Fields look brilliant with a bountiful harvest. Farmers feel on top of the world as they watch the result of their hard labour with pride.

        Children eagerly wait for the arrival of the carnival. It's the time for them to get new clothes, toys and everything else they asked for or thought of. Numerous uncles, aunts and grandmas grace their wishes with delight. It is also a time for homecoming for people staying away from the families. Their arrival multiples the joy of the festival several folds.

           As Onam awaits one very special visitor, legendary King Maveli who once gave the people a golden era in Kerala. The King so much attached to his kingdom he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily.

      Women folk make special arrangements to welcome Onathappan. Flower carpets are laid in the front courtyards with dedication and full sincerity. A grand meal (Ona Sadya) is prepared on the day of Thiruonam. It is on this day that Maveli's spirit visits Kerala. Lip smacking meal consists of best of Kerala cuisine including avial, sambhar, rasam, parippu and the payasam.

        One of the most marvelous facets of Onam is the unfolding of its rich and well-established culture. We see not just glimpses but a whole gamut of it in the ten-day-long carnival. Pulikali (Tiger Dance), Kaikottikali (Women Ballet), Kummattikalli, Kathakali, Thumbi Thullal besides several other folk arts and traditions can be seen on one platform called Onam.

       The essence of this festival is the secular fabric. People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate the festival with equal joy and verve. Onam also helps to create an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by way of various team sports organised on the day.


      Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali, the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.

Onam is the passion of the people of Kerala. And, pride of India!

Onam Rituals

     Celebrations commence from the first day, Atham. The day is regarded holy and auspicious by the people of Kerala. People take early bath on the day and offer prayers in the local temple.

Onam Pookalam.

     Notable feature of this day is that making of Pookkallam or the flower carpet starts from this day. Attha Poo is prepared in the front courtyard by girls of the house to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali in whose honour Onam is celebrated. Boys play a supporting role and help in gathering flowers. In the following days, more flowers are added to Pookalam. As a result Pookalam turns out to be of massive size on the final day.

     Preparations for the Thiruonam starts in a big way and everybody gets engaged to mark the festival in their own style. There is also a set breakfast consisting of steamed bananas and fried pappadam (pappad). This remains the same till the day of Thiruonam. A swing is also slung on a high branch of a tree. It is decorated with flowers and the youngsters take great delight in swinging and singing, that goes simultaneously.

Rituals for the ninth day-Utradam

     A day prior to Onam is the ninth day of the festivities and is known as Utradam. On this day tenants and depends of Tarawads (Ancestral House of a traditional large joint family sharing a common kitchen and consisting of more than hundred people) give presents to Karanavar (Chief of Joint Family). These presents are usually the produce of their farms consisting of vegetables, coconut oil, plantains etc. This gift from the villagers to Karanavar on Onam are called 'Onakazhcha'. A sumptuous treat is offered is offered by Karanavar in return for Onakazhcha. Village artisans also offer a specimen of their handicrafts to the Karanavar of Tarawads  . They receive gracious rewards for this courtesy.

The Big Day - Thiruonam

     Malayalees appears in its grandiose best on this day. Cultural extravaganza, music and feasts add colors of merriment and joy to the God's Own Country. There are celebrations all around the state and everybody takes active participation in them Onam and is celebrated by people of all religions and communities.

The Big Feast - Onasadya

        After completing the morning rituals, it's time for the family to get ready for the grand meal called Onasadya. The biggest and most prominent place in the house is selected to lay the meal which is traditionally served in a row on a mat laid on the floor.

        Onam Rituals is the central place in the row is occupied by the eldest member of the family. In front of him is placed a lighted brass lamp at a distance. Towards the west of the lamp is placed a small plantain leaf on which the food is served. This is an offering made in the name of Lord Ganapathy.

       Thereafter, the meal is served to all present. The elaborate meal consists of 11 to 13 strictly vegetarian dishes and is served on banana leaves. There is a fixed order of serving the meal and a set place to serve the various dishes on the leaf. A lot of preparation and hard work goes in making of the scrumptious Onasadya.

Dances and Games

     After the grand meal, it's time for people to indulge in recreational activities and enjoy the festival. Men of strength and vigor go for rigorous sports while senior members pass time by playing chess and cards. There is a set of traditional games to be played on Onam which are collectively called, Onakalikal. It includes ball games, combats, archery and Kutukutu (Kerala version of Kabaddi).

Tug of War

      Women go for dancing activities as there are specific dances like Kaikottikali and Thumbi Thullal for the festival of Onam. Women performing the graceful clap dance called Kaikotti kali in their traditional gold bordered mundu and neriyathu presents a splendid sight. Besides, there is also a tradition of playing on a decorated swing hung from a high branch. Onappaattu - Onam Songs, are also sung on the occasion.

Thumbi Thullal


        Celebrations and cultural programmes are held all across the state and outside Kerala with predominant Malayalee population to mark the festival of Onam in which a large number of people participate. Prominent amongst them are entertaining events like Kummatti kali and Pulikali. The other high point of Onam is the dazzling display of fire works. The state of Kerala can be seen engulfed in light and spirit of merriment when people burst fire crackers.

Kummatti kali
Puli Kalli: Tiger Dance

Ten days of Onam....

        Carnival of Onam continues for ten days in the state of Kerala. In some regions of the state festivities are restricted to four to six days only. However, scholars say, the festivities have toned down a lot in the present time, long ago i.e. before British rule, Onam was celebrated for a month and much more lavishly.

         Nevertheless Onam is still celebrated with gaiety and joy on all the ten days of the festivities. There are set rituals for each day and the traditional people of Kerala dutifully follow them. The mood of the people is upbeat all through the carnival and the high spirited people of Kerala are ever ready to indulge in merriment.

      Of all these days the first day Atham and the tenth day Thiruvonam are the most significant ones. Also ninth day Uthradam is also considered to be extremely important from the point of view of celebrations in several parts of Kerala.

Atham - Day One

Atham the first day of festivities in the ten-day-long Onam carnival is regarded as holy and auspicious by the people of Kerala.

To complete the rituals of Atham people take early bath and offer prayers in the local temple. There is also a set breakfast for Atham consisting of steamed bananas and fried pappadam (pappad). This breakfast remains the same till the tenth and the last day of Thiru Onam. A swing decked with flowers is also slung from a high branch and youngsters take great delight in swinging and singing Oonjal (swing) songs.

Major highlight of Atham is that people start making pookalam from this day. Pookalam, also called Athapoo, is an intricate floral mat laid in the front courtyard by maidens of the house. As by now you are aware that it is done to welcome the holy spirit of legendary King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. In subsequent days more flowers and new designs are added to this pookalam. Selection of flower is also an important matter as a particular flower is selected for each day for a specific deity. Great deal of thought and creativity is employed in the making of Pookalam as girls vie with each other for the best design.

A grand procession called Athachamyam is also carried on the day of Atham to mark the beginning of the grand carnival of Onam. The procession is carried out to commemorate the royal custom of the erstwhile state of Kochi when it was customary for the King to travel with his entire entourage to the Thripunithura Fort. Even in the absence of King today, the custom still retains its majestic charm. Elephant processions, folk art presentations, music and dancing make Athachamyam a spectacular event. The procession of Athachamyam is of marked importance at Thripunithura, Kochi.

From the day of Atham an atmosphere of joy and jubilations envelops the very air of Kerala as people get engaged in one activity or the other. Everybody wishes to celebrate Onam in best possible manner.

Chithira - Day Two

Chithira is the second day of celebrations in the ten-day-long Onam festivities. There are not any marked rituals for the day but people offer their prayers to evoke divine blessings.

For girls the importance of the day lies in the fact they will add new flowers to Pookalam which they started on the day of Atham. So they have to unleash their creativity and think of the most innovative and creative design. Boys of the house will get the job of arranging flowers for the girls. After all everybody wishes to invite Lord Maveli in their own house by making the best Pookalam in the neighborhood.
Planning and intense discussions for the big day of Onam begins from this day. Each event is discussed in detail so that nothing remain undone or incomplete. A long shopping list is prepared and children get the opportunity of putting in their long pending demands in the elaborate list. A time for wish fulfillment for everyone!

Chodhi - Day Three

Third day of the ten-day-long carnival of Onam is called Chothi or Chodi. The day is marked by buzz and lot of activities. Frenzied shopping can be witnessed in the market place all over the state as everybody buys new clothes and accompanying accessories for the grand festival of Onam. Gifts are also procured for everyone in the house including the servants. Some shopping is also done for closed relatives. 

Well, there are no set rituals for Chothi. Specific flowers are added to Pookalam on this day too. It may be noted that different types of flowers are added to Pookalam on each day as each flower is devoted to a particular deity. As a result Pookalam increases in diameter on this day and gets a refreshing new design.

Visakam - Day Four

     Vishagam or Visakam is the fourth day of the Onam festivities. As the number of days left for the big days are very few now, excitement becomes palpable amongst the people of Kerala. Brisk activities in the market and households can be witnessed on the day of Visakam.

Various Recipe's of Onasadya..

Pal Payasam: A lovely sweet Drink.

     Women who have to prepare the elaborate meal of Onasadya on Thiruvonam, gets engaged in the prior preparations on Visakam. Making of various types of pickles and pappadams (papad) besides various other things begins now.

     Girls engage themselves in making new designs for Pookalam with flowers of different colours and shapes. It is an endearing sight to watch women dressed in their traditional attire working on the Pookalam. 

     They sing and make merry as and at the same time give shape to their creativity. Pookalam designing competitions are also organised at various places. These are extremely popular in Kerala and witness a participation of large number of designers and onlookers.

Anizham - Day Five

      Anizham is the fifth day of Onam celebrations. High point of the day is the grand Snake Boat Race event called Vallamkali, which takes place on the fifth day of the Onam. The hugely popular competition happens on the banks of the river Pamba at Aranmulla. A multitude of domestic and international tourists come to witness the colourful spectacle of the race.

     A large number of long snake like boats called chundan vallams participate in Vallamkali. Each decorated boat is oared by hundreds of oarsmen dressed in the traditional dhoti and turban. Boats are oared on the rhythm of vanchipattu or boat songs. Vallamkali is essentially a team event as a single mistake by a oarsman can lead to overturning of the boat.

     On the home front, more flowers are added to the Pookalam laid in the front courtyard of the house. Women become extremely busy making preparations for Thiruonam and a general atmosphere of excitement prevail at this time in Kerala.

Thriketa - Day Six

    Triketta or Thriketa is the sixth day of the carnival of Onam. A feeling of joy and jubilation can be felt amongst the people of Kerala at this time. Cultural programmes and social gatherings are organised by various cultural societies all over the state. People of all religions caste and creed participate in these events as the festival of Onam has come to be seen as a secular festival. Government of India too celebrates Onam as the National Festival of Kerala.

Family Gathering During Onam.

     There are no set rituals marked for the day of Triketta. It marks the time for home coming for people staying away from their families for various reasons; Onam is the time for family get together and nobody likes to be away from family and dear ones. Joys of festivities doubles in the company of family members and close friends. On this happy note, Pookalam gets a more beautiful design and fresh flowers.

Moolam - Day Seven

       Moolam is the seventh day of the festival of Onam which continues for ten days. With just two days left for the festival now, enthusiasm grips the state of Kerala. Bright colors of the festivities can be seen in commercial areas of the state where the shops are loaded with goods and people are jostling for a space. There is hustle and bustle everywhere as excited people do their last bit of shopping. What is even more apparent on the faces of millions of people of Kerala is the spirit of joy and happiness. People get the feel that the time to meet their Onathappan has just come. A year long wait is going to be over and there will be celebrations all around.]

Pookalam with Kondattam design
       Pookalam is made in a new design with Kondattam (gaiety) on this day with the most beautiful flowers. For Maveli is coming and there is mirth all over.

Pooradam - Day Eight

Pooradam is the eighth day of the ten-day-long carnival of Onam. The day holds significance in Onam festivities. Devotees create clay idols in the shape of small pyramids called a Ma. As the idol is created on the day of Pooradam, it is also called Poorada Uttigal. Each Ma is decorated with flowers.

On Pooradam size of the Attha Poo gets further increased due to an addition of design with a different flower. Massive house cleaning operation starts as people ensure that everything looks neat and tidy when the Onathappan arrives. People also visit friends and relatives and exchange warm greetings of the festive occasion.

Uthradam - Day Nine

Utradam or Uthradam the ninth and the penultimate day of the festival of Onam, there is jubilation all around as people prepare to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali. In some regions of Kerala festivities of Onam starts in a full fledged way from Utradam itself. In some places Utradam is called first Onam, the next day Thiruonam as the second Onam.

On the day of Utradam tenants and dependents of Tarawads (traditional large joint families sharing a common kitchen) bring produce of their farms or the product of their toil to the Karanavar (eldest member of the Tarawad). These gifts from the tenants to the Karanavar are called Onakazhcha. Karanavar greets these people warmly and treats them with a sumptuous meal on Thiruonam. Village artisans also bring their handicrafts to the Karanavar and are graciously rewarded.

Pookalam is given a nice design with new and special flowers on this day.

Thiruvonam - Day Ten

     Thiruvonam Aashamsakal! The enchanting state of Kerala reverberates with the chants of Onaashmsakal, "To everyone, Onam Wishes" as people exchange warm greetings of the occasion on the tenth and the most important day of the carnival of Onam. People believe that it is on Thiru Onam that the spirit of legendary King Mahabali visits the state of Kerala.
     Activities begin early in the morning. People clean their house, take early bath, wear new clothes and participate in special prayers organised in individual homes and then in local temples. Later a very special and the biggest of all days Pookalam is prepared to welcome Maveli. Clay mounds in the shape of pyramids representing Lord Vishnu and Mahabali are prepared and placed in front of the Pookalam.

     In the noon the grand feast of Onam called Onasadya is prepared. The strictly vegetarian meal consists of 11 - 13 mandatory dishes and is served on a banana leaf. The eldest member of the family presents gifts and new clothes to the family members.

     Various cultural events are organised all over the state to mark the day. Dances, games, shows and get together are the other highlights of the day. Patassu (fire crackers) are also burnt to celebrate the occasion.

     There are some rituals also marked for the eleventh and twelfth day called Avittom and Chatayam or Chathayam respectively. But the major celebrations get over on the tenth and the most important day of Thiruvonam.

         Thiru or Tiru stands for sacred, holy, beautiful or auspicious and is equivalent of 'Sri' in Hindi. It is so called as the day is the most significant of all, for the people of Kerala. People believe that it is on the tenth day that Lord Mahabali comes to visit his people.

       Some scholars say that the name thiruonam comes from the name Sravanotsav out of which 'Sra' was taken out and 'vana' was transformed to 'Onam'. To the word Onam, 'Thiru' was added as the asterism Sravana on which Onam is celebrated was sacred to Lord Vishnu.
       Tough all ten days are mentioned above but it must be noticed long time back that all ten days was celebrated with hindu customs and traditions, which may have forgot or have no clue about and that includes me to. Each day was dedicated to certain flowers and rituals accordingly was done to remember Gods and our ancestors.

And finally here comes my favorite, the Royal feast ONASADYA...

     Onam is incomplete without one having Onasadya on the day of thiruonam, we in metropolitan cities with busy lifestyle only experience a day of Kerala culture through Onasadya. Thanks that the generation of now is celebrating the festival through Onasadya.

       As many of the traditions and customs is still followed in Kerala though many have been dis-followed due to modernization, here out of Kerala all we can do to celebrate is by ONASADYA. The occasion of Onam is the only day in the year when all log distance family member else family member meet and work together in sync to make this grand feast in their house, moreover making this is a herculean task so it required more than 10 persons to make this happen and this where all family members meet together and work in Unity.

       As you can see many different variety of recepie's are placed on the Banana leaf along with rice Non Malayalees might be wondering from where to start and where to end. Well if you see a professional (like me) eating it then here is my advice. And it's the most difficult task to make ONASADYA

         First start with the Main course, make a pit in the rice and allow to pour Sambar the main curry of the feat to pour over it like you see in the picture. Mix well till it gets well soaked with rice you can have few of them and then you can add the side dishes as per your liking. Remember that the more mix you have with all those recipies  THE BETTER THE TASTE.

How to eat the grand feast:

        Strictly use your hands please, no fork no knife shun away European culture you will never be able to enjoy the great taste of ONASADYA for those who thinks eating from your hands is bad habits, then please this post is not for you, if you dont use your hands you are missing the essence of ONASADYA as its your hands that add taste to you feast. 

        You have to take the rice on your PALMS and not Fingers OK....  and then mix it well then male a ball of it about the size of a golf ball then glup it. The more you mix the food with you hands the taste gets much better, the reason behind this is we have some bacteria, known as normal flora, found on our skin. These bacteria are not harmful to human instead they protect us from many harmful bacteria from outside environment.  It is required to establish normal flora in various parts of our body like in mouth, throat, intestine, gut etc for the betterment of health. 

         It might look ridiculous and embarrassing for many but i would advice try it once only then you shall know what's taste.....

           Instead of using plates we use banana leaf and again the reason is taste, the food tastes fantastic if we eat on banana leaf, as it is traditional and during old days it was only banana leaf was used for eating food. Also eating on banana leaf had various medicinal effects.

How is it Served

     There is a distinct order of serving the the grand feast of Onam. Pappad or Pappadum is to be served on the extreme left. On top of the big pappadum banana is served. From the right pappad - salt, banana wafers, sarkarapuratti fries are served. After this, ginger lime and mango pickles are served. Next comes 'vellarika', 'pavakka', beetroot and 'ullikitchadi'. 'Kitchadi' made of pineapple and banana splits or of grapes and apple is served along with this. On the right, 'cabbage thoran' is served. Then comes a thoran made of beans and avil followed by bread and green peas mix 'thoran'. The meal will be complete with the 'avial' and 'kootu curry'.

     Rice is served when the guests seat themselves and just two big spoons is considered enough. After this 'parippu' and ghee is poured. Then comes Sambhar. Desserts are to begin with adaprathaman followed by 'Kadala Payasam'. This colourful arrangement on the lush green banana leaf makes the food look even more tempting and irresistible .

      Hold on...Be a little need to wait a little before you start gorging the lip smacking meal. There are some rituals which need to be followed. First full course meal is served for Lord Ganapathi in front of a lighted oil lamp (Nila Vilakku). This is in accordance with the Malayalese trend of starting everything in the name and presence of God.

More About the Meal

    For a better understanding of the Onasadhya meal let us now go through all the dishes in a little more detail. If that temps you too much, take a look at the recipes section and enjoy your Onam whenever you want.


     OnasadyaThis is either prepared from pumpkins/red beans or from yam and raw bananas cubes. The spices used in this include split green chillies, ground coconut, cumin seeds, turmeric and red chillies. Erissery is seasoned with mustard seeds spluttered in oil. This is a main stay for the occasion, though not very popular these days.

Kalan or Pulisseri

     This is prepared from buttermilk. Ingredients consist of sliced plantains called nenthra-kaya and yams or chena. These are boiled in water with salt and chillies. It is flavoured with ground coconut and mustard seeds spluttered in oil. Some even add cucumber cubes to Kalan.

      Olan is prepared from sliced cucumber and brinjal. Sometimes pulse is also added. They are boiled in water with salt and no chillies. When properly boiled, some fresh coconut oil is poured. The dish is seasoned with flavour kariveppila (curry leaves).


      This is kind of a mixed vegetable as all sorts of available vegetables are added to it. All vegetables are first boiled in water with salt and chillies. Tamarind and well ground pulp are added at proper time. Aviyal is flavoured with coconut oil and Kariveppila (Curry leaves).


     Thoran is prepared by slicing beetroot and several other vegetables into very small pieces. These are then boiled in water with some salt and chillies till all the water dries up. Water can also be strained away. For seasoning, ground coconut pulp and mustard fried in coconut oil is used.


      This resembles olan. It is a special Onam delicacy from the state of Kerala and has been recently added to Onam Sadhya.

Koottu Curry

     This is a curry consisting of a variety of vegetables and some Bengal gram. It differs from Aviyal as it does not contain tamarind.


      This is an extremely popular recipe from South India and relished by the whole of India. It consists of dal and a variety of vegetables like brinjal, drum-sticks, pavakkai (bitter gourd), etc. All vegetables are first boiled in water with salt and chilies. Tamarind is also added to enhance the taste. Other spices like coriander, cumin seed etc. are fried in oil and powdered. Sambhar is flavoured with mustard seeds and asafoetida.

Pachchati, Kichchati

     These are types of curry consisting chiefly of cucumber, mustard and sour butter milk or curds. In Kichchatim, young and tender cucumber is added


     This lip smacking recipe is prepared from tomatoes treated with tamarind juice. It is seasoned with bay leaves and mustard seeds spluttered in oil. Some people take rasam with rice. Rasam also helps in digestion.

     This is an extremely delicious dish and is a sort of pudding. It is prepared from boiled potatoes mixed with molasses and coconut milk. The mixture is flavoured with spices. There is another type of payasam called 'Pal Payasam' in which rice is boiled with milk and sweetened with sugar.

    There is a whole variety of Prathamans such as ata, pazham, parippu and palata prathamans.


     A special drink is prepared for Onam in which water is boiled with a combination of cumin and dried ginger (chukku). This is beneficial from health point of view.

Onasadya Upperi or Chips

     Upperi is prepared from various things like raw bananas (kaaya), yam (chena), jack fruit (chakka), bitter gourd (pavayka) and egg plant fruit (vazhuthanga). Slices of the ingredient are fried in coconut oil to a crisp condition.

Pickles (Achaar)

     These are prepared well in advance of Onasadhya. Pickles are chiefly made from mango, lemon, ginger, chillies and curry naranga.

Pappads (Pappadam)

     These are prepared from black grams and are fried in oil. Pappadams are usually served in three sizes - small, medium and large.


    Chiefly plantain fruits of various kinds are served along with other articles of food at meals.

So here it is i come to the end of details on the great grand festival of Kerala ONAM. This blog has been to lengthy and more than 100 images being used but i hope this has covered some aspects of Onam for i know many have been missed as in old days many more customs might have followed but with course of time the rituals might have got faded, nevertheless WHERE EVER A MALAYALEE GOES HE WILL CELEBRATE ONAM...

May maa Bharti shower her grace on you,

Jayan Divakaran. 

No comments:

Post a Comment