Celebrating Onam & Grand Onam Sadhya

Celebrating Onam & Grand Onam Sadhya

Celebrating Onam & Grand Onam Sadhya

Celebrating Onam & Grand Onam Sadhya

It is my favorite time of the year. Time for happiness. Time for Onam!

As the monsoon retreats, the people in the Gods own country are all set to welcome their beloved King Mahabali and mark the Onam celebrations. Growing up in Kerala, I have had quite amazing memories during Onam. Pretty much an internet and smartphone free celebration for ten days with my beloved ones. Tug of war, making simple rope swing (Oonjal as we call it) at my backyard, plucking flowers for the Pookalam (traditional flower mat made during Onam) from wherever we can find it and savoring our traditional feast on the final day of Onam. This ten day long celebration is something that I still remember and carry with me.

The best part of Onam for me is definitely the Ona Sadhya or Sadhya (The traditional meal which is spread out on a banana leaf). Before I talk about the Sadhya, let’s take a peek at the story behind Onam.

The Demon King and His People

Even though Onam is a harvest festival, it has an interesting backstory, which probably every Malayalis know. The story goes like this: Mahabali, the demon king was the ruler of Kerala and he was wise and fair. The Gods grew jealous of his popularity and asked Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Vamana, a Brahmin dwarf who approached Mahabali for the land which he can cover within three steps, to which Mahabali agreed. Within the first two steps Vamana grows in size and covered the skies. After realizing that was the Lord himself, Mahabali let Lord Vishnu to keep his last step on his head. Before the Lord sent him to the netherworld, he granted him a boon. The king wished to visit Kerala once a year. He visits his people once every year and his annual visit is celebrated as Onam.

The Mouth-Watering Sadhya

Celebrating Onam & Grand Onam Sadhya

The elaborate banquet features nearly 20-24 dishes which are served on a banana leaf. Here are some of the inevitable dishes of Sadhya:


Upperi:Upperi or the banana chips which are served at the beginning is something – you can’t get enough of!


Sharkara Varatti: A must have for sadhya. Sharkara varatti also known as sharkara upperi is the jaggery coated version of the banana chips usually served along with the Upperi.


Erisserri: Made with pumpkin, red bean and coconut is served as a side dish.


Puliserri: Also known as Moru Curry is another authentic recipe made using vegetables like cucumber and pumpkin with grated coconut and curd.


Inji Curry: Ginger, tamarind and jaggery being the main ingredients, the inji curry is absolutely a finger-licking and delicious dish of the Sadhya.


Kaalan: Kaalan is yet another popular side dish made of yogurt, grated coconut and raw bananas.


Olan: Olan is one of the important and easy to cook dish in the sahdya which is prepared using white pumpkin and coconut milk.


Thoran: Thoran is more like a staple dish among the Malayalis. The best part about preparing this dish is that you can use any vegetables you can find around.


Matta rice: Right after the side dishes are served, the fibrous red rice also known as the matta rice is served.


Sambhar: The Kerala style sambhar is yet another important dish which makes use of different types of vegetables, coconut and spices.


Avial: One of the most searched recipe on the internet during the Onam season. This traditional side dish is an essential part of the sadhya. Almost all kinds of vegetables available are used along with grated coconut.


Rasam: Rasam is more like a soup which is prepared using tomatoes mixed with spices like tamarind, pepper and curry leaves.


Payasam: Desserts make everything better. So does Payasam. Payasam is the Kerala style dessert served at the end of the grand feast.


And the list goes on. I will be coming up with more traditional Kerala recipes here soon.


Happy Onam Folks!



  1. Very good blog

  2. Very helpful site, loved it!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *