Feast Time in Kerala: Check out what makes the 26-dish 'Onam sadhya' special
Irrespective of caste, creed or religion, practically every household in Kerala, rich or poor, the one common thing would be the traditional vegetarian 26-dish Onam lunch, more popularly called 'Onam sadhya'
Thiruvananthapuram: Irrespective of caste, creed or religion, practically every household in Kerala, rich or poor, the one common thing would be the traditional vegetarian 26-dish Onam lunch, more popularly called 'Onam sadhya' on the occasion of Onam festival being celebrated across the state on Wednesday.
Onam is the traditional harvest festival of Kerala and of the three most important days, Thiru Onam, the second day of the Onam festival, falls on Wednesday.
Even though most households go for the vegetarian lunch on the first second and third Onam, Thiru Onam which verily is the mother of all vegetarian meals in the state.
The only way that the sadhya becomes complete is when it's eaten from the plantain leaf, with hands and it's a perfect 10 out of 10 if its eaten seated on the floor, which, has now become a rarity.
Incidentally, old-timers are very particular that the 26-dish lunch is served on the leaf in a very strict order and there is an order for serving the curries poured on to the rice, too.
The mouth-watering lunch includes chips, pappads, various preparation of vegetables, a good number of pickles both sweet and sour, the traditional aviyal, sambar, dal served along with a small quantity of ghee, rasam, two different preparations of buttermilk, a chutney powder prepared from grated coconut and not to mention a series of payasams eaten either straight or mixed with a ripe small plantain.
Onam also brings out sartorial changes to practically every Keralite and eating the lunch in it, is another feature of the day.
While the ladies prefer to wear the traditional set, mundu, it almost looks like the saree, which is a single-piece dress, the younger ones are mostly spotted in the now rarely seen, the traditional skirt (pavada) and blouse.
And not to be left out, most men prefer to wear the mundu (dhoti).
But according to old-timers, the biggest change in all this, while in yesteryears, preparation for Onam in most households begins a month before, when practically special vegetables that are to be used for the sadhya, are identified from the homesteads besides pickles are all prepared well in advance.
"Those times have all disappeared into oblivion and I don't think anyone has the time for all this now. In today's fast world, everything is available on fingertips and just a phone call will see you the Onam sadhya delivered at your doorstep in a matter of 30 minutes," said 82-year retired teacher Geetha Nampoothiri.
On the flip side, when the entire state is busy with Onam, 350 residents in five flats at Maradu near Kochi are on a day-long hunger strike in front of the Maradu municipality to protest the Supreme Court directive which has ordered for the razing down of these flats before September 20.
At Pala, where a crucial assembly by-election is slated for September 23, candidates of the three political fronts have no holiday and are busy with their campaign.
"We are serving lunch at an old age home in our constituency and the response is very good and we are going to win," said ruling Left front, NCP's candidate Mani C. Kappen.
Meanwhile, 13-year-old Lindo Lawerence is celebrating Onam with a big heavy heart as he has drawn a picture of Puthumala near Wayanad, where last month a hill where his home was located came down crumbling due to a landslide, which left his mother and a few others getting buried under the mud and died.
"I have drawn a picture of how my village looked like before the landslide. It was a beautiful hillock and now it's all gone. I drew a picture, when I was staying at a relief camp of how my village looked after the landslide and that has been taken by the local body," said Lawerence.
All Kerala government offices due to the various holidays since Sunday are closed and will now open only on Monday and so would be the educational institutions.