Skip to main content

Onam Special: 9 Things nobody tells you about celebrating Onasadya with a true Malayali spirit!

Last Sunday, there were several Onam community celebrations across Delhi and Noida. After my amazing Onasadya which I enjoyed with thousands of simple devotees in Prashanti Nilayam, I had no doubts which one to attend this time. I know this sounds silly but I like to keep things pretty simple. Fancy stuff - nooo!

See this Onam pookalam below - it was so lovingly made by a few Tiruvalla Christian families. The home is that of a Christian too who gave his unoccupied home for the Onam celebration. We tend to go crazy on social media about religion, the right to eat beef and so on. What amazes me is that not one person expressed an interest to cook a non-vegetarian dish for this Onasadhya, which had mostly Malayali Christians! To me, this is the spirit that Malayalis always had - to actually care for others, to show respect to another's faith whether they endorse it or not. [READ: Happy Onam celebrations - Revisiting Memories] 

If this spirit doesn't capture the simplicity and essence of Onam, tell me what does?



Onam is about simplicity, cooking and sharing a meal together. To my delight, I discovered a very active Malayali community in our own building with over 35 Malayalis who had already put their Onasadya plans in place. I was allotted two Onasadhya dishes (not my first choice actually) by the organisers - Ishtu and Paalada. Of course, I was confident about the Paalada coming out delicious but I had never made Ishtu before for any sadya. 

You see, I am not a big fan of Ishtu as a sadya dish but I had no choice and so I got my mother's recipe and the dish came out yummy. There were people who asked for second helpings and a gentleman who got the remaining dish packed for his wife who was unable to attend the celebration. Hurray! 




So, what did I like the most about this Onasadya? Many things such as:

1. We were all Malayalis from different regions of Kerala, belonging to a different religion and we cooked dishes and served it together in a spirit of oneness.

2. Not one person had even thought of cooking a non-vegetarian dish - given that a majority of people who had gathered were non-Hindus. 

3. We introduced ourselves with an openness and simplicity that I really liked. 

4. For a change, the men insisted that women and children eat first. They served us so patiently and caringly and then we took charge.




5.  In most of the Onasadhya gatherings that I have attended, Malayalis are dressed to kill, not to mention the gold and jasmine overload. For this Onasadya, people were dressed in a very simple manner and interacted warmly.

6.  The biggest change I witnessed was to see my 11-year-old son struggle to eat with his fingers - something he has not done since he was a toddler. Cute!




As the men were being served, I noticed that the kids who had eaten were glued to smartphones, including my son. Something in me seemed to snap.

No way!!!

7. I called my son over and said, ''This is an Onamsadya. You have to serve."

DO READ: A Dad's advice to the Daughter he loves

Adi was horrified. He has a problem with touching food with his fingers, especially south Indian food which comes with strong scents of spices. When I cook sambar at home, he stays kilometers away from the kitchen! He doesn't like the smell of asafoetida or sambar powder.

"Me?," Adi asked, looking like I had announced a sudden test paper or something.

"Yes, you will serve. " I know I sound like a Monster Mom but I had to do this. 

"But I don't know how. I haven't done anything like this before..."

I thrust a dish of rice to him and said, "Today is a good day to begin. So let's figure out how to do this right, okay?"

A miffed Adi took up the task with the same enthusiasm that I used to attack my Maths test papers. But once the activity got started, I could see the happiness on his face. He was beginning to glow. He was happy. He began to volunteer and serve other dishes and do so without me saying anything.

I learned a valuable lesson through my son's involvement in serving the Onasadya. 

8. It's not what we wear or cook that matters on Onam. It's how we commit ourselves to making others feel happier. 

9. It's how we begin to change when we serve people. We feel joyous inside.

That is all that matters. 

[READ: Investment Banker leaves high-flying job to live in Prashanti Nilayam]

Tell me about how you like to celebrate your favorite special and do you feel you are happy at the end of the day?
2 comments

Most Popular Posts

A Dad's advice to the daughter he loves: Be yourself, remember you are special and treasure your strengths

Just a week ago, Dad gave me a very emotional pep talk at the Bangalore airport. The good thing is that whenever I feel emotionally vulnerable or stressed out, I replay Dad's conversation. It lifts me up and instantly brings a huge smile to my face. That's my Dad - yeah! 




As a teenager, Bangalore used to be one of my favorite cities though the garden city was not as ''global'' and ''vibrant'' as it is today. It was a pretty cool place to go shopping for stylish accessories, not that I could splurge and go crazy with shopping but I could do so on a limited budget. So, I used to look forward to our summer trips to Bangalore, from where we would head out to Whitefield. 

The busy, broad streets, the scent of street food and the vibrant atmosphere had always perked me up every time I reached Bangalore. Be it heading to Puttaparthi or Whitefield, my parents and I have traveled to Bangalore so many times that it became a kind of ''routine'…

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]




Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your feet. Your feet will sparkle an…

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 

[DO READ: The POWER OF LOVE]

Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Why salad is good and healthy for you - 3 life-changing reasons to park more vegetables on your plate

Nowadays, I love making salads, not just because they are easy and fun to eat but I also enjoy playing around with different textures, colours and flavours. I don't follow any recipes when it comes to salads - I just love to experiment. Sometimes, the salad comes out really colourful and yummy, on bad days, it can turn out not so great. Here's one that came out so delicious that I can't wait to make it again!
FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST

If you are wondering what the health reasons are for eating salad, there are plenty, but I am going to share the ones that matter to me. 1. Salads are packed with fibre The good thing about salads is that they are packed with fibre, which is known to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Plus, it enables your system to eliminate toxins faster.
2. Salads are nutrient-rich The reason why salads are a must-have in our daily diet is because you can pack in the best nutrient-rich veggies on to your plate at one go. Having more greens in your daily…

Sage Tiruvalluvar's golden advice on how friendship affects your life

Ruzbeh N Bharucha's latest book, ICE with Very Unusual Spirits, is a book that I have absolutely enjoyed reading. While reading every chapter, I began to contemplate a lot on the friendships in my life, as the book blends in some of the most valuable teachings of Sage Tiruvalluvar and Sai Baba of Shirdi. The essence of the book revolves around true friendship and how it can make us not just more human but it can make us divine beings too.




As human beings, we thrive on friendship. These days, I've started wondering, ''Is there real friendship out there?'' From experiences that span four decades now (yeah, I am that old!), I am beginning to wonder about the authenticity of most ''friendships.'' [Do read: How to Console a Friend who Lost her Spouse]

A friend whom we knew since childhood days invites us home for dinner but when we visit, we don't get served dinner, but popcorn. Our mistake? We arrived in an auto, instead of a taxi (it is a differe…

Five ways to take charge of your anger

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Every day, the newspaper headlines are full of scary stories of people killing each other over trivial things - mostly these incidents happen when individuals lose their temper and turn violent. In traffic jams across Noida in the evenings, people don't hesitate to walk out and hit each other.  At workplaces, colleagues lose their temper and say things that they regret later. During holidays with loved ones, small things set us off and we say things that damage relationships forever. No one stops anyone. Everyone likes a big, bad fight. It's great to vent. After all, what's the big deal about getting angry? After all, if you cannot express what pisses you off, how can you call yourself human? 


Does anger solve your problems? You know the answer!

If anger solved all the problems in the world, this world would have been a perfect place centur…

Balanced diet for ladies: Eat according to your body’s age

Experts say that as years roll by, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients decline, so it is even more important to formulate a balanced diet and eat according to one’s age.

The following age-specific information (excluding the details given under ‘Expectant Mothers’) is a summary from an article I read in the popular UK food magazine called Delicious and the article is titled “Eat your age: Wise up to your changing needs.” It is written by Anna Montague and published in  March 2011.
Balanced Diet during Teen Years Iron deficiency is seen as a pre-dominant condition in most teenage girls and this trend is increasing. Teenage girls are not getting enough iron from their diet.

200gm of low fat yoghurt every dayLean meat, fish, pulses and eggsDried fruitsLeafy vegetablesFresh fruitsSay no to sugary drinksHaving a daily sufficient calcium intake is important for girls as it is like having ‘bone in the bank’ for the future.
Balanced Diet in the 20s’ Fortified cerealsHave fresh and dried nutsFrui…

Mumbai Police Movie Review: Prithviraj breaks the typical 'hero' mold, challenges sexual stereotyping

Exploring a completely different dimension in his latest film Mumbai Police, Director Rosshan Anddrews delivers a fast-paced, thriller film after his award winning fims such as Udayananu Tharam, Notebook and others.



To flesh out the script written by Boby Sanjay, Rosshan Anddrews ropes in actors such as Prithviraj, Rahman and Jayasurya to portray three police officers: Antony Moses, Farhan and Aryan respectively.
The story begins with a phone call that Antony Moses (starring Prithviraj) makes to Farhan (starring Rahman) saying that he has solved the murder mystery of Aryan (starring Jayasurya). Just as he says this, there is an accident and Antony Moses loses his memory. From then, Farhan's attempt is to take Antony through people and places that are likely to trigger his memory so that they can solve the murder of their close friend and colleague Aryan. A series of events happen, almost hurtling us towards it.
And I am taking the liberty to hand out trophies for the following:
'M…