Mahua: The Tree of Life of Tribal Odisha
Mahua: The Tree of Life of Tribal Odisha
Having a taste of Mahua liquor
The Mahua (Botanical name :Madhuca longifolia ) tree is better known as the tree of life of tribal Odisha and abundantly available in different patches of deciduous forests of central India . The botanical name ‘ Madhuca’ in Sanskrit implies sweet. These trees are the loveliest when they have flowers in full sprout between late February and the end of April.From food to fodder , ayurvedic medication, country made liquor and even fuel,every part of the tree proves beneficial for many different purposes of human life.
Fresh collection of mahua flowers
pc: first post
Its flowers and bark are widely utilized in the preparation of ayurvedic medications.The bark of the tree is utilized for treating chronic bronchitis, rheumatism, diabetes, eczema,piles, bleeding gums, skin disorders etc. People also do believe that it has aphrodisiac property and proves good to treat male impotence . Mahua bloom extricates are utilized against heart infections , bronchitis, tonsillitis, polyuria, leucorrhoea etc.Mahua is additionally a cocktail made out of flowers of the tree and is a tribal mainstream summer drink.
For the unenlightened, mahua bush has a sweet and exciting smell , its taste is little similar to that of raisins or dried grapes.It’s flowers are decomposed after being kept submerged under water for 6 to 7 days and then distilled into the best country made liquor indigenous to India.
Dry mahua flowers kept for selling
Nowadays, the government intends to sell it as a mildly alcoholic drink which may prove hugely beneficial for the tribals who can collect the flowers and then sale at the minimum support price( MSP) set by the government so that the tribals can never be exploited by the traders( middlemen).Among the tribal communities of Odisha, whoever possesses more number of mahua trees is viewed as rich . Mahua flower ripens and the fallen flowers on the ground are gathered during the months of March and April . Skin of mahua seed is used as a vegetable. Oil from the seeds is utilised for varied purposes…like for a hair fixer, for cooking and lighting lamps , to making cleansers or soaps etc.
Sun-drying freshly collected mahua flowers/ mahua flowers on trees
pc: The Indian Express
One possible reason behind forest fire is that tribals of Southern Odisha often set fire just below the mahua trees to burn down the wild bushes so as to make it easy for collection of fallen mahua flowers on the ground but that fire often goes uncontrolled and creates widespread devastation in the forest.
Tribal individuals stay alert during the night to shield mahua flowers from wild creatures in light of the fact that the smell of mahua flowers draw in the wild creatures . They gather the mahua flowers in the first part of the day in bamboo made crates and later protect it in earthen pots . Mahua flowers are often found in huge heaps in the local tribal markets for being sold and it proves as a good source of income for the tribal people.
see how the colour of Mahua flowers change after sundry
The Indispensability of Mahua Liquor in the Tribal Socio- Cultural Life
Tribal women consuming mahua liquor in leaf plates. pc: mint
The traditional method of preparation of the country made Mahua liquor is as follows. The Mahua flowers are kept in a metallic pot or clay pot completely submerged in water and the pots are placed preferably on the banks of a desolate stream /river. The Mahua flowers normally takes 6 to 7 days to decompose . To get ready liquor through the distillation process, the tribals normally utilise three pots. Two pots for boiling the decomposed substance and the other pot is used for collection of streams which condenses into liquor and the condensation process becomes faster because of the cooling made by the stream water . A bamboo pipe of around 4 to 5 feet is used for smooth passage of steam from the second pot to the third one to facilitate the cooling process . The third pot is intended for the last assortment of liquor. After the required cooling process, the liquor gathered in the third pot is moved to the empty bark of gourds for drinking. The liquor produced from Mahua flowers has no colour, looks like normal water with whitish tinge and the best aspect of it is that it is not strong and never proves harmful to the tribals even if consumed daily. Five kilos of dried mahua flowers yield around 3 liters of liquor. The best quality normal type of mahua is available at a very reasonable price of ₹ 150-175 for 650 ml.
Preparation of Mahua liquor
pc: The caravan
The purity and potency of those country made Mahua liquor can be determined by sprinkling a couple of drops ablaze. It must be flammable, truly fermented ethanol is flammable..
Fried red ants in leaf plates to be consumed along with Mahua liquor as an accompaniment, being sold in a tribal market near koraput, Odisha
Fried little fishes in leaf plates to be consumed along with Mahua liquor as an accompaniment, being sold in a tribal market near koraput, Odisha
Among the tribal communities , during the marriage ceremony a bride price is ascertained by the amount of Mahua liquor given by the bride’s family to the villagers of the groom. During different tribal festivals of South Odisha such as Nuakhai parab, Chaiti parab, Ghat parab etc. the people first offer this mahua liquor to mother earth and then worship other Gods and Goddesses.
Mahua liquor is an indispensable item during different Socio- Cultural activities of tribal life …like birth of a new born baby, death of a family member and at the time of funeral function etc. During first birthday celebration of a newborn child, all the family members and relatives get congregated and mahua liquor is served to all of them. All those people who carry the dead body for cremation used to have mahua liquor at the funeral. During different family rituals, the priest ( pujari or purohit) invokes the spirits of the dead and other ancestors and propitiates them with this liquor offering.
In this way births, passings, weddings and memorial services—everything is moved by mahua. Though it stays a minor forest product but it is the nerve centre around which the whole lifestyle and local business practices of few tribal communities revolve around.
Dr. Manoj Mishra