Dietary Significance of Onasadhya

By     16-Aug 2018     Reading Time: 6 Mins

Dietary Significance of Onasadhya

Onam is a harvest festival in which people celebrate the arrival of new crops and the end of the harvest season. It is celebrated with extreme enthusiasm in Kerala. The most important festival of the southern state, Onam has been declared as the ‘National Festival of Kerala’ by the government. This grand carnival is celebrated in the month of Chingam by Malayalam calendar annually to re-live the homecoming of the legendary king Mahabali. He was a legendary king under whose rule, Kerala had achieved the golden age of peace and prosperity. This extended ten days monsoon festival is filled with joy and enthusiasm including various festivities like special feasting called Onasadhya- an elaborated meal served on a banana leaf which has approximately 25 delicacies.

Apart from having a rich cultural significance, Onasadhya has its dietary benefits too. The most celebrated feast- Onasadhya is the one with dietary significance as it’s a complete meal that includes food items from all the vital food groups nourishing your body with all the essential nutrients required by it. Since Onam comes after Karkidakam, the month of monsoon, people strongly believe that to detoxify their bodies they need to consume detoxifying foods and to heal the digestive system. While Onasadhya treats the taste buds, it also rejuvenates the body.

Onasadhya incorporates all the flavours – from spicy to savoury to bitter, sour and sweet. It’s an all-vegetarian affair, enriched with nutrients and high in dietary fibers supporting your health. It is served and consumed in a particular order so as to complement the taste and digestion appropriately. Here are few of the typical food items on the list of Onasadhya:

  • Rice (Kerala Red rice)

  • Kaaya Varuthathu (Raw Banana chips)

  • Sharkara Upperi (Raw Banana chips with jaggery)

  • Sambar (A spicy, thick lentil gravy with a variety of vegetables)

  • Aviyal (A mildly spicy, dry dish with boiled vegetables and ground coconut)

  • Olan (A mildly spicy coconut milk based gravy with lentils, usually had as a palate cleanser)

  • Kichadi (A mildly spicy dish prepared with curd, ground coconut and a variant of cucumber)

  • Thoran (A mildly spicy dry dish with finely chopped, cooked vegetable, tossed with grated coconut)

  • Achaar (A spicy pickle. Usually at least two different varieties are served, typically raw mango and lemon)

  • Rasam (A tangy and spicy tamarind-based gravy with tomatoes, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and cumin)

  • Moru (A tangy, spiced buttermilk)

  • Thairu (Thick curd/ yogurt)

The items are served in the order of appetizers, starters, main dish, palate cleanser, dessert digestives and gastric soothers. Water usually had along with the Sadhya is boiled with cumin or Indian basil (tulsi) for its highly digestive and medicinal properties. To understand the complete nutritional value of Sadhya, let’s take a look at the delicacies served once again in brief.

First, rice and lentils- are the great source of carbs required by your body. Sambar- is laden with seasonal veggies taking care of your vitamins and minerals requirements. Avial too has seasonal veggies and coconut, rich in dietary fibers aiding your digestion. Rasam, moru and jeera water does the same for your digestive tract. Kaalan and pachadi are made from curd or yogurt which again soothes your stomach. The pappadams and pickles give sodium content to your body. Last in dessert, Payasam- is a nutritious dessert made with milk and rice, and thus a good source of carbs and proteins, while pleasing your sweet tooth.

Over to you

We hope that by now, you must have understood the real significance of Onam. Every cultural tradition has a deep meaning behind it. Onasadhya teaches us to eat fresh and balanced food throughout the year while remembering to share whatever we have with our community.


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"At Nmami Life, the meaning of good health is a combination of nutrition and fitness, which are essential to your well-being."
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