Amongst all other festivals of Kerala, Onam is the most celebrated festival. Snake boat races, colorful celebrations, and the festive meal, ‘Onam Sadhya,’ are what make the Onam festival grand.
This blog will share some interesting facts and the significance of the Onam festival and Onam Sadhya.
Onam is an annual Malayali festival celebrated in August or September. It is the main harvest festival among Keralites across the globe. It is celebrated every year in the month of Chingam of the Malayalam calendar, which overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian Calendar. This annual festival adds color, flavors and brings together families to celebrate a special day from across the world.
Significance Of Onam
Onam commemorates the return of a mythical, righteous king – King Mahabali. According to Vaishnava mythology, King Mahabali was a demon king who belonged to the Asura tribe who defeated the Gods and ruled all three worlds, the earth, heaven, and hell.
Though the king fought the Gods, it is believed that he was a kind-hearted person, hence, much-loved by the people. This made the Gods insecure, resulting in Lord Vishnu taking on his fifth avatar, in the form of the Brahmin dwarf Vamana. Lord Vishnu then paid a visit to King Mahabali.
During his visit, King Mahabali asked Vamana what he wished for, and in response, Vamana asked for three pieces of land.
When Vamana was granted his wish, he grew in bigger size. Therefore, expanding to cover the sky and then the netherworld. Eventually, when Lord Vishnu was about to take his third pace, the earth, King Mahabali offered his head to Lord Vishnu. This act impressed Lord Vishnu so much that he granted Mahabali the right to visit his kingdom and people every year during Onam festivities.
Rituals of the festival
Onam celebrations go on for almost ten days. The festival brings together communities and turns temples into vibrant structures. During these ten days, devotees offer prayers, wear traditional clothes, decorate their houses with floral carpets called Onam Pookalam, and visit friends and relatives.
However, these celebrations reach their apex on the most auspicious day which is also the last day, Thiruvonam.
On the main day, the women of the house wear white and golden saree and prepare the festive meal, Onam Sadhya.
Sadhya is a 9-course meal that consists of approximately 26 dishes. Below are some of the unique Onam dishes included in the festive meal:
- Kalan – A sweet potato and yam coconut curry dish
- Olan – White gourd prepared in coconut curry
- Avial – Seasonal vegetables prepared in coconut curry and Indian spices.
- Kootu curry – A curry made of chickpeas and Indian spices.
- Dal Rasam – A soup-like dish made with a base of tomato and pepper and toor dal. It is generally eaten with Kerala Red Rice and other preparations.
- Moong Dal Payasam – A dessert made with milk, yellow moong dal, green cardamom, and other spices.
- Sambar – A traditional South Indian dal made with toor dal, urad dal. It is generally flavored with spices like turmeric powder, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chili powder.
Apart from the Onam Sadhya, the other main attraction of this festival is the Snake-Boat Race locally called Vallam Kali.
It is a traditional boat race carried out every year on Onam in Kerala, India.
Vallam kali includes races of many kinds of paddled longboats and ‘snake boats’ where each team competes for the yearly Nehru Trophy in India.
The sight of Vallam Kali is worth beholding as you see brightly decorated boats rowed by hundreds of men well-synchronized rowing towards their goal. The whole race looks like a stunning performance of art. And just like the colorful Sadhya, the Vallam Kali is also the life of Onam.
Apart from these fancy traditions and rituals, people also invite loved ones over for a meal. Families away from home spend time practicing basic rituals with fellow Malayalis in and around their neighborhoods. Like any other festival, Onam brings people together to celebrate festivities and primarily enjoy the Onam Sadhya.
So, this Onam, even if you are away from home, prepare organic and delicious Sadhya for your loved ones with 100% pure and authentic ingredients from Dwaraka Organic. We wish you and your family a Happy Onam.