Yesteryear actress Manya Naidu, who hails from Andhra Pradesh is no stranger to the festivity and as she has also done over a dozen of Malayalam movies, she is a complete Malayali by heart!
In an exclusive conversation with ETimes, Manya Naidu recalled her earliest Onam memories and also shared about how she celebrates the festival in New York, where she currently resides.
Taking a trip down the memory lane, Manya recalls, “I celebrated Onam for the first time while I was shooting for ‘Joker’. I indulged in the multi-course
Sadhya (feast) on the sets of the Lohithadas sir’s movie. Being a vegetarian, I was mindblown by having the
Palada Payasam (Rice pudding) is my favourite. I am also very fond of the
Sambar, Thoran, and the Kerala ginger curry. The second Onam also was on the sets of ‘Kunjikoonan’. I made quite some memories of Onam on the film sets.”
Although Manya was introduced to Onam during her teenage years, the festival became one of her favourite occasions and she never misses an opportunity to observe the festival, even though she lives in New York. “Now, even though I am in New York, far away, we still celebrate Onam. We have so many Malayali friends and they invite me as a guest to their association celebrations. I also take my American friends with me. And I have taught them to eat Sadhya with their hands! They are in fact enjoying eating with their hands,” Manya added.
Eating with hands is very common in the Southeast Asia countries including India and the practice is often said to have many health benefits, like accelerating the digestion process, helping in portion control, and many others. “I love eating with my hands. My daughter Omi also loves to eat with hands. She scoops the food and eats!” the actress admits.
Speaking about celebrating Onam amidst the pandemic, Manya said, “Usually we used to celebrate with friends and family. Go to the association and have
Sadhya. But last year we couldn’t meet friends, due to the pandemic and so we ordered
Sadhya from a Kerala restaurant at home. This year Onam falls on Saturday, so we will be preparing most of the dishes. I am good at cooking
Thoran, so I would prepare that and order the Banana leaves and the rest of the
Sadhya, the feast consists of 26 vegetarian dishes, and Malayalis follow it quite religiously.
Manya concluded the conversation by extending her Onam wishes to fans.