THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Foreigners touring Kerala this Onam season were in for a treat, literally, as they got a chance to enjoy lip-smacking dishes served on banana leaves by villagers in select idyllic villages on Monday and Tuesday. The traditional Onam feast, Onasadya, was served to tourists from the UK, US, Israel and other countries as well as domestic visitors – who had registered with the Tourism Department – as part of the ‘Relish an authentic Onam feast, get exciting gifts’ project of the department’s Responsible Tourism Mission (RTM).
The tourists got a chance to stay and mingle with villagers and taste the local food as part of the project. They were also introduced to various cultural activities and art forms associated with Onam. Though the project was launched in 2017, this was the first time the state was experimenting with it on a large scale, state RTM coordinator Rupesh Kumar K told Express.
“In 2017, we launched the ‘Onasadya’ for tourists. Though all arrangements were made to hold the celebrations on a large scale last year, the devastating flood upset our plans. This year, everything was in order. We are planning to make this an annual affair on Onam as it would attract more tourists to the state,” he said.
The visitors also got the chance to witness pottery making, learn to play percussion instruments and braid strands and coconut leaves, among other activities. “Foreigners who were part of the experience promised to return next Onam. The tourists also posed for photographs with villagers. Though the Israeli delegation did not pose for photographs citing security reasons, they said they enjoyed the Onam celebrations,” said VS Bhagat Singh, RTM Kottayam district coordinator.