Monday, August 24, 2015

Licking My Fingers

India is divided into 29 states, has 22+ languages and 720 dialects, various religions, and more than 2,000 ethnicities. For the first time, I had the pleasure of attending a South Indian Hindu festival called Onam this past weekend. 
pretty flower arrangement with South Indian Hindu lamps
Onam is celebrated by Hindus in the state of Kerala, located in southwest India. It commemorates the return of a Hindu King from the underworld, but can be considered a harvest festival. In Kerala it is celebrated for 10 days and includes traditions such as a huge feast, wearing new clothes (usually white or ivory), pookalams (flower arrangements) for the King, and attending a boat race.

Here in Phoenix we attended a one day festival at the Indo American Cultural & Religious Foundation. There was singing, dance performance, a lighting ceremony, and some other speeches. The only downside was that most of this did not take place in English, and as a result I could really only enjoy the dance performances.
They did, however, provide a delicious traditional feast. The best South Indian food I have ever tasted! The Onam sadya (feast) usually consists of small portions of 26 dishes served on a plantain leaf. This version took place on a plastic plantain leaf was under 20 dishes and super yummy.
Left to Right... 1st line: banana, plantain chips, plantain pieces fried in jaggery, pineapple chutney, cabbage dish, avail, fried okra raita. 2nd line: papadum, parboiled matta rice, lentil dhal
According to Ayurveda, any sadya is said to fulfill both the body and mind. Eating with your hands in general is said to aid digestion and the various dishes offer a balance between hot, cold, sour, sweet and spicy. Desert dishes were served towards the end of the meal.
It was definitely a fun meal to experience!   

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