The story goes that several years ago some people were traveling in the boat called Palliodam when all of a sudden the boat got stuck in the bend in the river. The oarsmen tried to move it but were unsuccessful. The spiritual head, Bhattathiripad who was boarding the same boat Palliyodam, thought that it was a bad omen as the boat was laden with food. He came to river bank to seek help and saw a hut by a dim light that was glowing. He decided to visit the hut and ask for help.
When Bhattathiripad went close to the hut he saw a poor widow weeping and some children sleeping besides her. The woman told Bhattathiripad that her children slept off hungry and she has no food to feed them. Bhattathiripad was moved by her pathetic state. He went to the boat Palliyodam and brought food for the family. When the family became happy with the food, boat Palliodam could be easily maneuvered to the main course of river again.
From then on began the tradition of feeding one poor person on the day of Onam.