It was a busy Friday at work. I suddenly see a message on WhatsApp. It was Dad sharing the menu, asking me to finalize this year’s grand ‘Onasadya’. A big smile on my face. Woah, its Onam time already! On the coming Wednesday, Malayali families irrespective of caste and religion will celebrate the Onam festival with its usual gust and pomp.
Onam is an ancient festival which still survives in modern times and is one happy and most important event that I and millions of Malayalis all over the world look forward to every year. Onam is such an important event that a Malayali’s age & wisdom is determined depening on the no. of Onasadya (Onam meal) one’s indulged in. Reminds me of the many arguments I’ve had with my Ammuma (Maternal Grandmother) that simply ended with “Mone (Son), I have eaten a lot more Onasadya than you, so stop arguing with me”. Onam is one of the rarest festival which is celebrated by a complete state, irrespective of religion, caste and creed. It was interesting to read that special prayers are organized in temples, churches and mosques, highlighting the secular nature of festival.
Kerala’s rice harvest festival and the Festival of Rain Flowers, which fall on the month of Chingam, celebrates the Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala (the underworld). Onam is unique since Mahabali (locally known as Maveli) has been revered by the people of Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily. It is in honour of King Mahabali that Onam is celebrated. The deity Vamana, also called Thrikkakarappan is also revered during this time by installing a clay figure next to the floral carpet (Pookalam). Mahabali’s rule is considered the golden era of Kerala, ancient Bharata.
The celebrations of Onam start on Atham day, 10 days before Thiruvonam (actual Onam day, this year on 14th September). The 10 days are part of the traditional Onam celebrations and each day has its own importance in various rituals and traditions. These power-packed ten days of feasting are followed by traditional boat races, dancing and singing. The rich culture of Kerala can be understood in the best form during these 10 days of celebration.
Onam for me means news clothes, quality time with family & friends, and a scrumptious feast. My day starts with an early morning shower, a superb breakfast and last minute cleaning of the house. This is followed by preparations for lunch and then the most awaited Onasadya. The Onasadya (feast) is another very indispensable part of Thiruvonam, and is served on plantain leaves and consists of about 25-30 dishes. No matter if you’re a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, this vegetarian meal will surely give you a foodgasm. This is a proud Malayali’s (yours truly ;)) promise.
While almost every Keralite will attempt to either make or indulge in Onasadya, I know most of my non-Mallu foodie friends will be searching for places that’ll serve Onasadya. I understand that being a food blogger, who also happens to be a Malayali, brings in a lot of responsibilities. So, I’ve done that research for you. While you can come to my house and indulge, here’s a list of 5 restaurants, where you can enjoy the scrumptious Onasadya –
Onasadya is usually a rage among foodies, and with most office goers hunting for an Onam feast, it is highly recommended that you either go a little early or a little after lunch time. This meal has to be enjoyed in peace to attain the ‘foodgasm’ that we’re talking about. So cancel all your meetings now.
Wokay Wokay aajaayyye! Onasamsakal everyone!