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Last Updated Friday December 09 2016 03:12 PM IST

Aranmula boat feast vs regular Kerala sadya. What's the difference

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Onam Sadya

The famous 'Vallasadya' or ‘feast for the boats’ at Aranmula has many peculiarities on how it is conducted, served as well as eaten.

The feast is offered in honor of a boat (vallam) which represents a particular place around the temple. During the festival, it is believed that Sree Krishna comes in the boat to partake in the feast.

The oarsmen from each of the palliyoda karayogam, who are invited for the vallasadya by the devotees, will reach the temple in their respective palliyodam (boats)singing tunes in praise of Lord Parthasarathi. They are escorted around the temple and to the oottupura (dining hall) of the temple for the feast. The famous 'Vallasadya' or ‘feast for the boats’ at Aranmula has many peculiarities on how it is conducted, served as well as eaten.

The feast is offered in honor of a boat (vallam) which represents a particular place around the temple. During the festival, it is believed that Sree Krishna comes inthe boat to partake in the feast.

The oarsmen from each of the palliyoda karayogam, who are invited for the vallasadya by the devotees, will reach the temple in their respective palliyodam (boats) singing tunes in praise of Lord Parthasarathi. They are escorted around the temple and to the oottupura (dining hall) of the temple for the feast.

The feast would offer up to 64 traditional vegetarian dishes and the boat crew would be treated as representatives of the presiding deity. Hence whatever they ask must be served, else the organiser of the feast would have to face the wrath of the lord. That is the reason why the menu of the feast is rich.

The Ashtami-Rohini Vallasadya is the mega feast on Ashamirohini day, the birthday of Sri Krishna.

Even the laying of the plantain leaf for the sadya is as per traditions. The narrow portion of the leaf should point to the left of the person who is having the food. All that is served on the leaf has its own position and the positions should not be violated.

Curries that are served on the leaf are classified into three: taste enhancers, accompanying curries and pouring curries. The order of the curries is roughly as follows:

Fried items such as chips and sweets such as sharkarapuratti are placed on the left end of the leaf. These, mostly dry, are also served first. Below them, on the left end, is placed a ripe banana. The course of the meal should start from the dry items and end with the banana.

To their right of the dry items are served taste enhancers such as pickles, ginger curries etc. From the centre of the leaf to the right are placed curries such as Aviyal, thoran and other accompanying curries.

There are two types of pappadoms—the big and the small one. One for the main course along with rice, and one to eat with payasam.

Guests are requested to take their seats after the accompanying curries are served. After that rice is served and pouring curries such as parippu, sambar and pulissery are served in order, as and when the guest finishes the previous curry. When the rice is served first, it has to be divided into two, the right portion for parippu and the left one for sambar.

After this, payasam is served. After four rounds of different payasams are consumed, rice is served once more and you can finish the meal with buttermilk and kalan. Finally you can have the banana. The logic of the sadya, apart from the philosophical significance, is that foods that need more time to digest are eaten first and those that need least effort by the body to digest are eaten last. Sweets enhance metabolism which aid in digestion and absorption.

After eating the food, the leaf has to be folded inwards.

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