Sadhya feast marks Onam celebrations


Festive meal: For a Keralite, having the Onasadhya is the most important part of the celebration. Omanis were also seen enjoying the Onasadhya in many hotels. Photo - Times of Oman
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Muscat: Expatriates from the south Indian state of Kerala living in the Sultanate celebrated Onam, the harvest festival, yesterday, by enjoying the traditional Onasadhya, a rich and delicious platter comprising 26 food items.

While some enjoyed home-made Onasadhya, sharing it with Omanis and others in their neighbourhood, others who were not able to prepare it at home depended on takeaways sold by catering centres and restaurants.

The Times of Oman found that hotels and catering establishments did a roaring business, and most of them were finding it difficult to meet the orders for Onasadhya. By 11am itself, Keralites, and some Omanis, were seen standing in long queues at many hotels, waiting for their turn to get a seat and enjoy the traditional Onasadhya.

"By 11:30am itself, we stopped taking further orders for takeaways because we knew we would be unable to meet the demand," said a hotelier in Ruwi.

With prices of vegetables and other essentials rising like never before, hotels and caterers were charging a minimum of OMR4 for an Onasadhya package, all packed in good quality plastic containers.

"We stay without our family in the Sultanate. So, it is quite difficult to prepare the Onasadhya at home. So, we decided to depend on hotels. For a Keralite, having Onasadhya is the most important part of the celebration. It is a nostalgic feeling no Keralite will wish to miss," Santhosh and his friends said while waiting in the queue for their turn to enjoy the Onasadhya.

"Even though this year the price is a little high, compared to previous years, we don't want to miss the Onasadhya today," they added.

Omanis were also seen enjoying the Onasadhya in many hotels.

"I love Onasadhya. Last year also, I enjoyed this sumptuous meal from a restaurant. You eat with your hand and lick your fingers to savour the stuff to the last morsel. I love this feast," Abdul Aziz, a national engineer at a safety firm in Ruwi, said.

"Now, I know how to have this feast in a traditional way. Even though there are more than 22 items on the platter, we have to know the traditional way of where to begin and what to savour next. Only then will you be able to enjoy the food and satisfy your taste buds," Aziz added.

Meanwhile, Keralite blue-collar workers were seen looking for a shade near construction sites to have their routine daily meal.

"Back in Kerala, my family will be celebrating Onam amid fun and frolic. However, here I have to do with only rice, chapati and a curry sent by the camp kitchen. What can one do? We have to make adjustments for the well-being of our near and dear ones. I miss them all," a Keralite construction worker said as he was having his chapati under the shade of a tree near his construction site.

"This evening, we may be making some payasam, a dessert made with rice flakes and jaggery, to celebrate Onam. That is all there will be to our Onam celebrations," the workers added. There are approximately 500,000 Keralites residing in the Sultanate, of whom a majority are blue-collar workers who invariably miss Onam celebrations.

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I do agree that so called Onasadhya is the key attraction of the Onam – Kerala’s festival of plenty. I liked many of the Keralites wearing the traditional dress of the state. At the same time, it was a good time for restaurants in the city by serving the Onasadhya in banana leaves and also by providing parcel services during this auspicious occasion. Even families approach restaurants for the special Onam feast. This time, for a change, I also booked a few parcels for my family. However, the quality of the food was not that expected. Even though there were lots of items in different colour and taste, we missed the actual savor of the Onasadhya hence could not enjoy the meal. It was really disappointing.



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