THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The lip-smacking Onam Sadhya, the spectacular multi-course
vegetarian meal served on plantain leaves featuring at least 15-20 dishes on the occasion of Onam, has the potential to bring the people together. Thousands of tourists including foreigners from the UK, US and Israel, who registered with the state tourism department, can now vouch for this after getting a taste of Kerala in its idyllic villages during the first couple of days of Onam.
The tourists were given the chance to mingle, stay and taste the village life as part of a project called ‘Relish an authentic Onam feast and get exciting Onam gifts’ organized by the Responsible Tourism Mission under the Kerala Tourism Department. Apart from the sumptuous Onam feast, the foreigners were introduced to various cultural activities and art forms associated with the festival.
Speaking to Express, State Responsible Tourism Mission coordinator Rupesh Kumar K said this is the first time Kerala has introduced the programme on a large scale.
“In 2017, we had just introduced the Ona Sadhya for the tourists and in 2018, although we had arranged everything to launch large scale Onam celebrations for tourists, the megaflood brought all the planning to nought and Onam was literally washed away with the flood. This year everything was in order and we are planning to take this venture forward every Onam in the coming years as it would attract more tourists to the state,” he said.
Among the tourists who visited various countryside villages on Monday and Tuesday, the highest number was from Bangalore and in the foreign segment, tourists from UK, US, France, Israel and other countries attended the celebrations in rural Kerala, with the highest footfall recorded in Kumarakom, Vaikom and Bekal. The visitors were also given a chance to witness pottery making, percussion learning, braiding of strands and coconut leaves and other activities as part of the event.
According to the mission, as many as 915 Onasadyas were served for tourists from September 1 to 9. A total of 492 bookings were made by tour agencies for Onasadya packages. 58 Gramayatra (a ride through the countryside villages after the Onasadya) packages were conducted by the mission and there is a booking for another 68 packages. 43 Onam Special Experiential Packages were conducted and booking received for another 98 packages. 123 Onam special accommodation packages including a night stay with villagers have already been booked. The mission will continue to offer these packages till 30th September, said officials.
The foreigners promised to come back next Onam and even posed for photographs with the villagers, while the delegation from Israel refused to be photographed citing security reasons. But they really enjoyed the Onam celebrations, said V S Bhagat Singh, Kottayam district coordinator.