Onam means happiness: Manjima Mohan
Onam memories: I usually go home for Onam and celebrate the festival with my family, but this time, because of the lockdown, I couldn’t travel. We celebrate it for three days. Onam means a lot of happiness and family coming together. When I was in college, since Stella Maris had this small Malayali community, we used to get that one day to celebrate Onam, when we would wear traditional saris, put pookalam and have Sadhya together.
Plans this year: I will be celebrating Onam in Chennai this year. I am thinking of meeting a couple of my friends and going out for a meal instead.
I love my grandmom’s payasam: Parvati Nair
Onam memories: Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I celebrate the festival by wearing the traditional attire and having Onasadhya. There have been times when I have been shooting for a non-Malayalam film, but people on the set do something special for me. My fondest Onam memory, though, was when all my cousins from all over the globe got together in our ancestral home to celebrate the festival. We decorated the swing, drew pookalams, and had a hearty meal. I really do miss our old times, celebrating the festival with cousins and relatives. I wish I could do that one more time!
Plans this year: This time, too, I am shooting. But I am going to have a proper Onasadhya and wear our traditional attire for a bit at least.
Favourite in the Onasadhya: The first dish in the Sadhya is paruppu (green dal) that we mix with rice and eat. And towards the end of the meal, we have Ada Pradhaman, which is made with jaggery. I especially love my grandmother’s payasam.
Mom’s Palada Payasam is my favourite: Iswarya Menon
Onam memories: Onam is all about spending time with my family. Usually, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and I meet during Onam. It is about calling relatives and wishing them well. It’s about watching a nice Malayalam movie together. It’s also mainly about the Sadhya. My mom is an excellent cook. She wakes up super early and makes so many varieties of sweets and kaarams, and three varieties of payasam. We don’t have breakfast that day and straightaway have the Sadhya.
Plans this year: This year, I intend to wake up early, pray to God and chill with dad and mom. My brother and sister-in-law are stuck in Australia because of the COVID situation, so they won’t be here for Onam this time. Again, because of the pandemic, I haven’t invited any of my friends home.
Favourite in the Onasadhya: Everything that my mom makes. Her Mallu cuisine is just top-notch. Right from her Pineapple Pachadi to Avial, and Kootukari, everything tastes amazing. Her Palada Payasam is really yummy, and you could call that my most favourite in the spread.
I am in Kerala this time for Onam: Gouri Kishan
Onam memories: The first memory that comes to my mind when you say Onam is plucking flowers for pookalam early in the morning. I grew up outside Kerala, but I was brought up in the culture. With Onam being the harvest festival, designing pookalam was the activity that kids had to do, and every year, we used to think of creative designs and do all the prep work the night before, which was always fun.
Plans this year: I’m in Kerala this year, though for a wedding. But my Onam celebration will be at my native with my grandma and my cousins. So, it is definitely going to be a lot of fun with yummy food, pookalam and I am happy that I get to celebrate it in the most organic way this year.
Favourite in the Onasadhya: There is this item called Sharkaravaratti, which is made of jaggery. It is something that they place first before we start eating. It is meant to sweeten your taste buds and it is believed that the Sadhya will be tastier if you have this before other dishes. I remember, as a kid, by the time they’d come to serve rice, I’d be done with Sharkaravaratti and would ask for more. It’s a sweet memory that I still cherish.