Sadhya takes centre stage as Kerala marks Onam indoors

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has continued in Kerala, almost every household in the state on Monday immersed itself in the festive spirit of Onam while staying indoors.

The one thing that took centre stage was the traditional 26-item vegetarian lunch, known as the Onam ‘sadhya’.

Onam is the traditional harvest festival of Kerala and of the three most important days, Thiru Onam, the second day of Onam falls on Monday.

Thiru Onam is the day when sadhya, the mother of all vegetarian lunches, is served.

The only difference in the way the sadhya is eaten compared to the older days is, though it continues to be eaten from plantain leaf with hands, the place has shifted from the floor to the dining tables.

The mouth-watering lunch includes chips, pappadoms, various preparation of vegetables, pickles both sweet and sour, the traditional aviyal, sambar, dal served along with a small quantity of ghee, rasam, two different preparations of butter milk, a chutney powder prepared from grated coconut and not to mention a series of payasams eaten either straight or mixed with ripe banana.

Another feature of the sadhya is the way in which the dishes are served in a specific order and eaten in a certain way.

But, the biggest change, compared to the earlier days is that while Onam preparations began almost a month ago, now many people prefer to order their lunch in advance from caterers or hotels. The cost of the sadya can vary from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000.

Apart from the traditional food, Onam also brings out sartorial changes in practically every Keralite.

While women prefer to wear the traditional set and mundu- a two piece saree, the younger ones are mostly spotted in the now rarely seen skirt (pavada) and blouse. And not to be left out, most men prefer to wear the mundu (dhoti) .

However, the ongoing pandemic has been a dampener to the festive spirit this year.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has cautioned that the spread the virus is continuing and hence all sorts of festivities and gatherings not take place on a large scale and advised people to use online communication to wish near and dear ones.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished the people on Kerala on the occasion.

Covid has been spreading in the state and so far over 73,000 have been infected and nearly 2 lakh people are still under observation at homes and hospitals.