Onam 2023: Vishakam, The Fourth Day And The Start Of Onasadhya

For Kerala and Malayalis the world over this week marks the celebration of Onam. The 10-day festival marks the beginning of the harvest and is associated with the return of the legendary King Mahabali who – according to the lore – returns to Kerala on the 10th day of Onam to bestow his blessings on his people. Each of the 10 days of the festival has a unique purpose and significance and the 23rd marks the fourth day, Vishakam. 

Vishakam (or Visakam/Vishagam) is like a spark that ignites the fervour of preparation for the grand Onam Sadhya feast. Traditionally, this would be the day that families across Kerala begin stocking up their homes with the season's first-ever crops, celebrating the auspicious occasion with a diverse array of dishes. Today it means the signal for people to head out for supplies and start preparations for the 26 plus dishes that are soon to be made. 

Video Credits: Village Cooking Kerala/YouTube

Vishakam signals the opening of the harvest sale in markets, transforming it into one of the most bustling days in cities across Kerala. The spirit is boosted as Vishakam marks the inception of various Onam-related competitions, such as the renowned Pookalam competitions. These contests showcase breathtaking designs crafted from an assortment of colourful flowers.

On this vibrant day, the women of the house dive into the preparations. This means the creation of diverse pickles, pappadams (papad), banana chips and a variety of other delectable accompaniments that enhance the feast's flavours. The focus is on prepping the elements that can be safely stored for the next six days until the final celebration on Day 10. 

Excitement mounts as families come together to shape the sadhya ahead together. While the number of dishes crafted may vary from family to family, it commonly involves a sumptuous spread of 26 delectable delicacies. These dishes are a testament to Kerala's rich culinary heritage and the importance of food in its culture.

Girls, dressed in traditional attire, channel their creativity into crafting fresh designs for Pookalam. And as they work in the kitchens and on the Pookalam, anticipation and joy spreads across the state, filling the air with merriment and enthusiasm. Vishakam embodies the spirit of unity, creativity, and festive fervour and the anticipation for the grand culmination of the festival, Thiruvonam, and the Onasadhya ahead. 

Here’s how to make your own Kerala banana chips to celebrate Vishakam.


  • 3 raw Nendran Bananas
  • Coconut Oil (for deep frying)
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • Water (as needed)


  • Begin by making two thin slits along the length of each raw Nendran banana. Gently peel the bananas from these slits using the edge of a knife.
  • In a spacious bowl or basin, combine water, salt, and turmeric powder, stirring well to dissolve the salt and incorporate the turmeric.
  • Immerse the peeled bananas in the salted and turmeric-infused water, ensuring they are fully submerged. Allow them to soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. This step imparts flavour and aids in the desired texture.
  • Heat an ample amount of coconut oil in a Kadai over high heat. Employ a mandolin or slicer to directly slice the soaked bananas into the hot oil.
  • Fry the banana slices until the vigorous bubbling reduces. Once the bubbling subsides, the chips should attain a golden hue and crispness. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried chips onto a bowl lined with absorbent kitchen paper, which will help remove excess oil.
  • To preserve their freshness and crunch, store the banana chips in an airtight container. They can remain delightful for up to a month.

Cooking Tips:

If the bananas possess a slightly ripe quality, their colour may transition to a light brown during frying. This natural caramelisation process contributes a gentle sweetness to the chips as the inherent sugars in the banana begin to develop.