Each Onam season, every Malayali, irrespective of caste or religion, looks forward to celebrating the traditions with Onappookalam (floral carpet), Onakkodi (new clothes) and the grand and elaborate Onasadya (Kerala feast). There was a time when all the family members would gather together for Onam and prepare a grand feast. Times have changed and the move to nuclear families with double income parents has seen sadyas being outsourced to hotels. Old-timers still recall a time when a traditional sadya was served in a particular order and measure, a practice the new generation has forgotten. In a bid to bring back the traditions of the old-fashioned way of serving the sadya, Sri Krishna Shrama Sangam from Onamthuruthu near Kottayam is setting an example. It is believed that serving food is an art and that if the art of serving is perfect, sadya would be delicious.
A team of 50, including engineers, scientists and students from all age groups, revive the age-old tradition of serving food in a right order from the jiggery-banana chips to the payasam. Sanal Potty, host of several popular shows, who had the opportunity to partake in a feast prepared by the team says, "Not many know that a sadya is actually a scientifically-designed nutritional package that nourishes, but does not overwhelm the digestive system. Also most of the curries served in a sadya and its order are such that they ensure a balanced nutrition. Serving the sadya is an art and these members magically appear sporting a wide smile know exactly when a dish needs to be replenished on the ela!"
The Sangam has taught all its members the right way to serve the sadya. On board are renowned names like Kanampilly Rudran Namboothiri, the sadya expert who coordinates the members, Krishnan, a retired teacher, Shoba, a bank official, who all know the measure of each curry.
How many of us know that the tapering end of a banana leaf should be placed to the left of the seated guest? Also here is a look at the order – jaggery chips, banana chips, pappadam, banana, salt, ginger pickle, mango pickle, lemon pickle, puliinji, kichadi, olan, pachadi, kootu curry/erissery, thoran, avial, rice, parippu, ghee, sambar, pulissery/kalan, ada prathaman, paal payasam, rasam and sambharam/moru. Though there are regional differences to the sadya in each region, this is the traditional order of serving a sadya.
The Sangam members are ready to cater to any number of people and are a very busy lot with members very passionate about serving a sadya the traditional way. The join the team whenever their services are required though busy with their respective careers the rest of the time....