Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala. It is the most widely celebrated festival of the region and is in the first month of the Malayalam calendar, Chingam(Aug-Sep). The festival lasts for ten days and is characterised by elaborate feasts, flower carpets, dance, folk songs, elephants, lights, traditional games and sharing gifts.
Onasadhya is the most awaited part of onam celebrations. It is an all vegetarian meal, traditionally eaten by hands sitting on floor. The way the dishes are laid out on the banana leaf is very special and appetizing. The sadhya is served in different courses so that there is space on the banana leaf without mixing up everything. Boiled rice is the main partof the meal.
First the banana leaf is placed end to the left and some of the dishes are served. Starting from left it goes like this: Pappadom, ripe banana, upperi, banana chips,inji curry, mango/lime pickles, sour kichadi (vellarikka/beetroot/pavakka kichadi), sweet kichadi (pineapple / grapes), kaalan, olan, thoran (cabbage/beans), aviyal and koottucurry (erisserry).
In the first course of the meal, rice is served with parippu (lentil curry) poured over it and a little ghee is sprinkled on top. The guests are invited in to start the meal.
In the second course of the meal, some more rice is served, this time with sambar.
After this if the guests are inclined to have more rice they can opt for rice with rasam or moru which are lighter accompaniments.
The guests who have had enough rice can go to the desert stage. The desert is also served in two or three courses, starting with ada pradhaman. Then comes any two more varieties of payasams choosen from kadala payasam, semiya payasam, parippu payasam, paal payasam, cheru payar payasam. The ripe banana can be mixed with the semiya payasam if you fancy this or you can save the pazham to be eaten at the end of the meal.
Together with the meal a glass of drink is also served which can be either jeeraka vellam or chukku vellam or karingali vellam.