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Meaning and Origin of Term Sadya as in Onam Sadhya

Sadya is the traditional vegetarian food (need not be always vegetarian) that is served on a banana leaf in Kerala. The most popular Sadhya is the one served during Onam. Have you ever thought what is the meaning and origin of the term Sadya.

The origin of the term Sadya is from the Sanskrit word Sagdhi (सगदी ). The term means eating food along with friends, neighbors, relatives and family members.

The preparation for Sadya begins days in advance.

Words cannot capture the emotion when nearly three generation of a family sits together to eat sadya. Mothers who prepare the food have moist eyes - tears of happiness - when the food is served to all the family members in a single place.

Photo of Valla Sadhya in Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple

Apart from Ona Sadhya some of other popular Sadhyas are:
  • Valla Sadhya - Valla Sadya is spread over more than 45 days coinciding with Onam, Aranumla boat race and Ashtami Rohini (birthday of Bhagavan Sri Krishna) in the famous Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple in Kerala. More than 100,000 people participate in the Sadhya on Ashtami Rohini day in which Lord Krishna himself comes and eats. The Sadhya is consists of 64 vegetarian dishes.
  • Vivaha Sadhya – This food is served during Hindu marriage. The number of dishes depends on the capacity of the family. But there will be minimum of 8 dishes.
  • Sadhya in Ambalam – Food will be served on special occasions in temples during festivals and important days.
  • Annadanam – Traditional food is served as Annadanam (food donation) in many temples in Kerala.