After not be able to go to my uncle’s home this Onam, I had resigned to having the delicacies at mess today. But then daane daane pe likha hota hain khane wale ka naam. One of my fellow mallu classmates invited all the mallus for a traditional Onam sadya. The thought of it was enough to send me into frenzy but with great self control I managed a lady like behavior.
Since two out of the three readers of this blog will not be familiar with the reason-de-entre behind onam a small flashback to long, long ago…
Long, long ago:
Mahabali, was the grandson of Prahlad, the son of Hiranya Kashyapu who was slayed by Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar. Mahabali‘s rule was considered as the golden era of Kerala.
The gods were very annoyed as Bali became the ruler of all the three worlds having defeated the Devas. The gods approached Vishnu and asked for his help to dethrone Mahabali.Mahabali who was performing the sacrificial rite of Viswajith on the banks of Narmada River, declared that he would give anything that anyone sought from him during this Yagna. Vishnu, incarnated in the form of Vamana, a dwarf to defeat the Daityas.
Mahabali went forth to receive the Brahmin boy with all traditional honours and gave him an eminent seat befitting the status of a holy person. Bali with the usual courtesy given to the people who come to ask for help told him Master! It is my good fortune that you have chosen to honour me with your presence. Whatever you desire, I am here ready to fulfill the same. Vamana smiled and said: “You need not give me anything great. It is enough if you give me that extend of land covered by three footsteps of mine”.
On hearing him, Bali’s preceptor, Shukracharya a Daitya priest, who has vision of the future told Bali that the one, who had come to take alms from Bali was not an ordinary Brahmin but Lord Narayana Himself who had assumed this form. He advised Bali not to promise the lad anything. But Bali was a king who would never go back on his word. He told his Guru that he would never break his promise as it was a sin. Shukracharya insisted that he should not fulfil the demand of Vamana as he had come to deprive Bali of all his possessions.
Bali, however, was determined to honour the word given to Vamana, begged pardon of his Guru for disregarding his advice.
Saying so, he asked Vamana to measure the three feet of land as desired by him. All attempts of Shukracharya to dissuade Bali from offering the land desired by Vamana proved futile. Bali considered everyone who came to him as god himself and never refused anyone anything that they have asked.
Vamana grew in size until he towered above the heavens. With one foot, he measured all of the earth. With the other, he claimed all of the heaven. There was still one foot of territory that Bali owed him. Bali asked to place the final step on his head as the third step of land which Lord Vamana had asked for as alms. Vamana placed the third step on the head of Bali and suppressed him to Patala, the underworld. For the devotion of this Daitya Mahabali, Lord Vishnu (Vamana) granted him rule over Patala. Vamana aka Vishnu granted Bali the boon that he would hold the position of Indra for one Manvantara , thus fulfilling his devotee’s desire ( the office of Indra being a rotating position , changing every Manvantara ) .
As a last wish Mahabali was granted the permission to visit his subjects once a year. Thus, Keralites celebrate Onam festival to commemorate the memory of a Great King Mahabali who would keep his promise.
Why the difficulty to contain excitement?
That would be because I get to eat this. Slurp…(wiping the drool..).this is what is contained in a traditional onam sadya.
Parippu : A thick lentil dish eaten with rice, Papadum and ghee.
Sambar : A thick gravy made of lentils, tamarind, coconut, vegetables like drumsticks, tomato, etc., and flavored with asafoetida.
Rasam : A watery dish made of tamarind, tomatoes, and spices like black pepper, asafoetida, coriander, chili pepper, etc. It is very spicy in taste and aids in digestion.
Aviyal : Thick mixture of all vegetables, yogurt, and coconut. It is seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. This dish is usually made of leftover vegetables.
Kaalan : Made of yogurt, coconut, and any one vegetable like “nendran” plantain or a tuber-like yam. It is very thick and more sour than avial.
Olan : A preparation of pumpkin, coconut milk, and ginger seasoned with coconut oil.
Koottukari : One or two vegetables like banana and coconut with a hot and sweet taste.
Kichadi : Made of yogurt and cucumber in raw or cooked form.
Injipuli : Curry made of ginger, tamarind, green chilies, and jaggery.
Thoran : A sauteed dish of vegetables like peas, green beans, raw jackfruit, carrots, or cabbage with grated coconut.
Pickles (Achar) : Spicy pickled vegetables like mango, lemon, lime, etc.
Pradhaman : a sweet dish in the form of a thick liquid. It is made with white sugar or jaggery to which milk or coconut milk is added.
Day proceeds just fine. No embarrassments. No oops! I did it again moments. Time to leave. My friends’s dad says thanks us for the visit. And dgrail who has not opened my mouth the entire time gets excited and says nammalkalle thanks parazhande instead of nammal elle thanks parazhande. (translation you should thank us instead of we should thank you.)