After nearly four years of being forced to stay indoors after two successive floods in Kerala during 2018 and 2019 and the next two years of the Covid-19 pandemic taking over, this time things are different as Onam, the traditional harvest festival of the state, is being celebrated across the length and breadth of the state by 3.3-crore population.
Onam is usually a 10 day-event, the three key days this year began on Wednesday with Thursday the biggest event — Thiru Onam and ends with ‘Avittam’ on Friday.
The biggest event on Thiru Onam and on other days is the savouring of the 26-course vegetarian lunch eaten on a planarian leaf and this happens in every home irrespective of caste, creed or economic status.
Gone are the days when practically every household would be busy in the making of the Thiru Onam lunch, but today it’s big and small-time caterers and not to mention the hotels that make a killing as the rates of a Onam lunch on Thursday ranges from Rs 300 to as high as Rs 2,000, especially in star hotels.
The 26 dish 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 butter milk, 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.
At the popular Thrikakara Vamanamurthy temple at Ernakulam, the day sees nearly 20,000 people being served the traditional ‘Onam sadhya’ and the first round started at 10:45 a.m. and State Industries Minister P. Rajeev inaugurated it along with Congress Lok Sabha members, Hibi Eden and Benny Behanan.
Newly appointed State Minister for Excise and Local Self-Governments, M.B.Rajesh was seen at his house in Palakkad and said he does not miss visiting his ancestral house at Palakkad every Onam and is here.
“The only time I missed coming here was when as an MP we had to visit Kashmir, if not I am here always and enjoy being here, as I grew up from here. I have the traditional lunch and also have dinner and only then I leave,” Rajesh added.
Incidentally the only difference in the traditional lunch is, while in the northern districts of the state, there are non-vegetarian dishes, which is not there in the central and southern districts.