The Sweet, Spicy and Sour Memories of Onam

Wrapped up a beautiful Onam Day. With everyone back to bed, I was reminiscing about the Onam days that have gone by. From being that enthusiastic child who observed her mother do the customs to the overtired yet exuberant mother who is doing stuff for the kids, my journey has been tumultuous.

A mother’s onam

Now when I look back I can see that overtired mother who can’t bear to see their kids lose their sleep for any ritual. I can see that lonely woman who is carrying a pitcher full of water in one hand and a tray full of Thumba flowers on the other, a tray with Ada on the floor which she occasionally picks to take ada to offer Maveli. How could she do all for rituals all alone, I wonder now. But then, I hardly cared.

Now when I look at myself as a mother, I refuse to take all the burden alone. I wake them up and ask them to accompany me. We do the welcome call (aarpoo irroo). And I make myself believe that they enjoyed it too because unlike my mother my sole aim is not the happiness of others around me. I want to take care of my happiness and peace as well.

The onam sadya

As I look back, I think of those Onam days when we all sat together and had sadya which our mother made. Later it changed to pre-ordered Sadya that would reach our doorsteps. I used to despise my mother for being lazy and just enjoying the day unlike my friends’ mothers who used to toil inside the kitchen. I conveniently forgot those onam days when she used to cook from dawn.
Some onam days we didn’t have celebrations as some of our loved ones passed away. There was one onam when my mother was away and my father and I had silent sadya together. Needless to say, pre ordered one. Because when it comes to me, my self care matters.

Role reversal

And then I got married and since then I have been doing the pookalam and welcoming Maveli (ethirelkal), along with my better half. Then the participant numbers slowly came up and now we have a bunch of 5 hyperactive lots to call Aarppoo Irrooo ( the welcome call to Maveli.)As I said before, I am that mother who doesn’t believe in sacrificing alone.

There was onam during COVID when we just wanted to see another Onam and nothing else. No new clothes, no pookalam, no celebrations. Year’s down the lane, we all forgot those times as well and go on with our celebrations despite all odds because this is one day that we celebrate irrespective of caste, creed and region.
Looking back I have nothing but gratitude for all the good and bad Onam days that went by. I hope you all had a wonderful onam too.
What is your Onam memory?

This post was created for the Blogaberry Creative (Monthly) Challenge.

This post is also a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 

Rakhi Jayashankar

About Rakhi Jayashankar

Blogger, Holistic Wellness Coach, Social Entrepreneur, Nutritionist, Healer


  1. My Onam memory? One of my most memorable Onam experiences took place a few years ago when I had the opportunity to celebrate this vibrant festival with a close-knit group of friends. The day began with the beautiful floral arrangement (Pookalam), adorning the entrance of our host’s home, forming a riot of colors and intricate patterns. The scent of freshly prepared Onam Sadya, a grand feast with an array of delectable vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf, filled the air. We all sat cross-legged on the floor, bonding over laughter and the delicious food. The highlight of the day was the traditional dance, the Thiruvathira Kali, where we joined hands and swayed gracefully to the rhythmic beats of the music. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky was lit up with a spectacular display of fireworks. That Onam left me with not only a satisfied palate but also cherished memories of the warmth and togetherness that defines this incredible festival.

    1. I am happy to know that you could enjoy authentic onam celebrations

  2. Love reading this post… In Oman, within my neighborhood, I’m fortunate to have many South Indian friends. This blessing brings me the joy of having South Indian cuisine and participating in their festive celebrations. Unfortunately, I was not well this time so, couldn’t join in their celebration. Moreover, our local Lulu mall is brimming with special Onam dishes. At Lulu Mall, it felt as though I had been transported to India, especially during Onam festivals.

  3. When I was studying in Bangalore, I remember every year celebrating Onam with friends in college, eating Onam dishes specially made in the canteen. These are some memories I still cherish!!

  4. I love the simplicity and grace attached with traditions, Onam is beautiful and a delicious festival, if I may add 🙂 My memories of Onam are filled with delicacies my bestie made or got from her hometown. I particularly liked the role-reversal part of this post and your celebration.

  5. Onam is a 10 days festival if I am not wrong and each circle of phookolam has a story. We celebrate Onam big way in our society as we have many malyali friends. I love their dressing, their dance and Sadhya of course. We all go through ups n downs but yes festivities brings lots of happiness.

  6. Cycle of life goes on from mother to daughter. A nice take on responsibilities of mother of a house had to fulfill to keep continuity in tradition and pass on the experience.

  7. I have never seen an Onam celebration, would love to see how homes come alive at this time. I would also like to have Sadya. In perspective, everything makes sense. The little scarifices our parents make and the way we learn to value them as we grow older.

  8. I had never celebrated Onam, but yes it is a beautiful festival. However, I particularly liked reading it because you had poured your heart into it.

  9. Yea.. I am also like you, who don’t want to sacrifice alone on any festival. I asked to help everyone in the family so they too enjoy festival and back end work. No wonder readymade food is blessing to all of us.,😁 Like your comparison though it is boon in the memory. There is no right or wrong way. I never saw onam festival.

  10. I seriously am imagining the olden days how mothers use to sacrifice but like you I truely believe all deserve happiness and celebration then why should the mother only take part of being tired. Everyone should have a role in the house be it celebration or not.

  11. Memories are like tales which makes us understand so many things besides offering sweet or sour memories. Every year I think I will write on Onam after consulting with you, but somehow on teh day of Onam I realize it actually. Better late than never and I will surely write on Onam one day.

  12. It is amazing how you took us all back in your memory lane and how your mother relentlessly prepares for Onam..It was a memory right out of your life and we could connect to it on an emotional level.

  13. Your heartfelt story about your mother’s efforts during Onam is a touching reminder of the sacrifices our loved ones make for us. It’s a beautiful tribute to her love and dedication.It resonates with many of us who might have taken our mothers for granted. It’s a wake-up call to appreciate the immense hard work and love they put into every celebration.Reading about your change of perspective towards your mother’s choices truly highlights the value of empathy and understanding. It’s a moving story of personal growth and gratitude

  14. Never really celebrated Onam and would love to one day. It’s true that memories have all sides to it. Later when we realise thing it all makes sense.

  15. I have never celebrated Onam. I loved reading about your childhood memories and how you celebrate it now as a mother. Like they say life comes full circle.

  16. I have never celebrated Onam but always enjoy reading about it. As kids, we all have somehow judged our mothers only to realize the reality after growing up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright content.