Onam Sadhya: The Most Colorful Feast of Kerala

The central feature of Onam is the big feast called Onasadya. This traditional lunch is the heart of the festival and is prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine-course meal consisting of 10 to 15 essential dishes. The delicious meal is completed with desserts like payasam made with boiled milk, cane sugar, and rice.

Onam Sadhya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a carpet lying on the floor to have the meal.
Of course, there are no forks and spoons on the table. The food must be tasted with the hands!


The most important activity of Thiruvonam is the Thiruvona Sadya. It is well known for being the sumptuous feasts prepared by Keralites. The meal varies with each single family, but each family tries to make it as grand as they can. In hotels and temples, the number of curries and dishes can go up to 30.

Whatever happens, a Malayalee will never miss the Grand Onam Sadya. There is a saying in Malayalam that Kaanam Vittum Onam Unnam, which means we should prepare Thiruvonam lunch even though we have to sell all our properties.
It shows the importance of the great feast of the Thiruvonam day.

Onam Sadya Recipes

On Thiruonam day, people clean their homes. They apply the dough of rice flour to the entrance doors as a welcome sign. People exchange gifts and serve the poor. The oldest woman in the family distributes new clothes to all members, according to a tradition called Onakodi, in order to renew their hearts by eliminating all the bad feelings.

In the temples, churches, and mosques, special prayers are made and this shows the secularity of the festival.
In the Thrikkakara Temple, there are traditional games and dances in the afternoon. It is attended by more than twenty thousand people.

In some parts of Kerala, people indulge in various games and dances during and after Thiru-Onam. People also participate in many types of competitions such as Ox Race (Maramadimatsaram), Uriyady, food eating competitions, Pookalam creations etc. An extraordinary spectacle of fireworks transforms Trivandrum and Kochi into a country of fairies.