Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away, Mahabali defeated the gods and took over the three worlds. To placate the unhappy gods, Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf and visited the king, requesting him to grant him three wishes. With the understanding that one must not ask for more than what one needs, the dwarf requested that he be given land that measures three paces. Mahabali agreed, and the dwarf changed form to his godly self, and in two huge strides Lord Vishnu included everything Mahabali ruled over. For the third step, Mahabali offered his head, which cast him into the nether world. Impressed with Mahabali’s devotion and affiliation to his earthly kingdom, Vishnu allowed him to return to earth once a year. Thus, with the chant of “Arpo Irro, Irro!,” to invite Mahabali to earth, the annual reminiscence of the golden rule of the mythical king Mahabali, is celebrated over 10 days, culminating on Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam, meaning “Sacred Onam Day,” welcoming Mahabali’s spirit and assure him that his people are happy and wish him well.

A day that makes every Malayali’s heart beat with pride, Onam, like most festivals in India, is a celebration that centres on food.  With up to 52 dishes forming the 'Sadhya' (feast), served on a single plantain leaf in a specific order, you are offered a choice of chutneys, appetisers like banana chips and papadam, mains that focus on rice-based dishes like red rice accompanied by a variety of gravies that include a plethora of vegetables, plus yams, yoghurt and coconut, and at least two varieties of payasam (pudding). Delectable lip-smacking delights, the feast truly defines the bounty of a harvest festival!

This year, ITC Hotels brings you the Onam Sunday Brunch. Hosted at Pavilion restaurants across our hotels, we present a glorious and traditional gastronomic spread and invite you to relish a thali fit for the kings, with delicacies from Kerala - the land known as God's own country, on September 3 & 4.