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Jharkhand Forum hot discussion on Adivasi drink, Handia

1. Traditional drink ‘Handia’ sells like hotcakes in Orissa
http://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/India/20080620/979263.html

In the tribal areas of Orissa, the traditional drink ‘Handia’ is very much in demand in summer.

The drink made by fermenting rice through a special procedure, is intoxicating, keeps the stomachs cool and is a source of high energy. In the process, the tribals also make good money out of the sales.

Some call the country liqour the poor man’s whisky. It is popularly known as ‘Chipa Handia’ or ‘Badaej Handia’ among the tribals.

The drink is immensely popular among the tribals in the region as it is commonly used during marriages, birth anniversaries and festivals.

It is also considered as a sacred drink and is offered to deities and used in other rituals.

The word originates from ‘Handi’ a big earthen pot in which the rice is fermented.

The procedure involves soaking and boiling rice in water. After that a herbal root, locally known as ‘Bakhar’, is powdered and mixed with the rice. The mixture is kept untouched for two days for fermentation. The liquid then is allowed to trickle down a bamboo sieve and collected in earthen pots.

“Handia is not a harmful drink. It is rather beneficial. It’s consumption also has cultural relevance as it is being consumed for ages. Some people think that people can fall sick with it and it can also lead to death but that is not true. The energy we get from the drink is much more than what we obtain from our usual diet,” said Raghunath Soren, a villager.

It is essentially a summer drink as it protects people from extreme heat conditions.

“The drink keeps our stomach cool and is also intoxicating. Though we can make it at home, we enjoy having it outside. We drink around two to three glasses costing Rs four to five,” said Arun Patra, a villager.

The drink has also become a source of livelihood for unemployed people in the region.

“We make good money during summers and earning comes to around Rs 200-250. During winters, we earn approximately Rs 70-80,” said Lali Baske, a seller.

The tribals have inherited from their forefathers the procedure of making the traditional drink and the craft passes on from generation to generation. (ANI)
Ven
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

2. It is true but certainly not healthy and in fact it has become a curse for the tribal people.They drink so much that it affects their health, productivity and lead to neglect of thier health and family welfare and eventual early death. Their drinking habit is one of the causes why they have not made much progress since independence of India in spite of all the beneficial provisions by the government.

Dhuni
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

3. As much as the Tribals, the drinking habit of people in general has affected the development of human society. It is easy to blame the tribals for all their misfortunes but don’t non-tribals drink and do worse things? I know for a fact that in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad well educated IT professionals consume phenomenal amounts of alcohol. Same goes for police and govt officers everywhere. One visit to the press club of delhi reveals that a lot more alcohol flows down there than expected. How about this – a certain club meant for officers and the elite of Orissa has the maximum alcohol consumption amongst all bars and shops in the whole state! All these people do end up doing wrong things that affect development more than the drinking habit of tribal people. I am not justifying the drinking habit of tribals though I would rather endorse unadulterated Handia, Tadi, Sulphi, Mahuli, etc over Rum, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin!

Surya Dash
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

4. Logic can’t be put forward that every one is doing wrong that’s why I done. It is remarkable that lot’s losses are in front of tribal community causing these bad habits. We should have to advocate for avoiding it in maximum number of cases. Other wise the cause for their deprivation may be noting by this habits.

Rajeev Pandey
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

5. Dear friends
It is good to know that Handia is not a life threatening drink. But this info is only from its users in Orissa. Similar drinks are made in villages in other states. For instance, in Vizag dist of AP, four types of liquor is made amd consumed with the belief that it is healthier. These are made of rice like handia, Jeelugu juice, panas (jack fruit) etc. There is a need for us to validate these drinks and look for the nutritional value in them. I believe firmly that there will be some constitutents,which are nutritious enough. Based on the results of their testing we may consider its value addition and commercialization. Such venture will bring to the villagers more income than what they are earning now.

We all may try and bring out few nutritious drinks to the market from handia like herbal based drinks of villages.

Ganesham
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

6. Friends, while abuse of the drink can be criticized, but wholsale condemnation is not warranted as Handia is an important cultural/religious drink. Would we criticiae the wine drinking habit of christians since it is related to Christianity?

A Case Study on Munda Women in Keonjhar District, Orissa

Nirupama Satpathy and Rashmi Ranjan Satpathy

Paper presented at the conference Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: Lessons From Eastern India, 25-27 September 2001, by Nirupama Satpathy, Research Associate (Gender) in Livelihood research project in Keonjhar district of Orissa, and Rashmi Ranjan Satpathy, Research Associate in Livelihood research project in Keonjhar district of Orissa.

Impact of Handia on tribal people
The term “Handia” is used in the Chotanagpur plateau for local consumption. It is a country liquor made from fragmented rice with toxic herbs. It is a liquid substance, which is essential among the tribal community, especially in the Munda and Santhal tribes. Handia is regarded as a popular drink among the tribals of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanja, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Dhenkanal and Angul Districts of Orissa and also in other states like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It is also found among the tribals in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is very difficult to know which tribes initiated the use of Handia. Both Munda and Santhal claim to be the inventor of it. Handia is now a very popular drink in the whole Chotanagpur region. Initially Munda and Santhal used it but nowadays it is getting popular in other castes and other tribes, like Kissan, Ho, Oram and Bhumija. It is also called “Diang” in Munda, “Handi” in Santahaly and “Kusuna” in Kissan.

Handia occupies a pivotal role in the tribal community, socially, culturally and economically. Handia is accepted as a most sacred drink in the Munda and Santhal tribes. It has religious uses and values. Handia is offered to local deities and in dead ancestors’ rituals.

The use of Handia is very common in the occasion of marriages, birth anniversaries and festivals. The festivals are: Baa Parba and Nuakhai (Phulabaguni), Akhitrutiya, Raja Parba, Ratha Yatra and Rakhi Parba. Handia is the best treat for guests and friends, and it has been used in this way from time immemorial.

From a social and cultural point of view, Handia binds the tribals together like a string of thread.

Firstly, during social meetings and social functions (i.e. marriage, birth and death rituals), the tribals greet each other with Handia.

Secondly, while going to friends’ or relatives’ houses, they take Handia with them as a present. It indicates the status, love and affection of the guests. Similarly, the host also welcomes them with Handia.

Thirdly, at the time of common rituals and cultural functions, the tribal people drink Handia, dance and enjoy themeselves together. During funeral ceremonies, the deceased’s household offers Handia to villagers and relatives. But in these days Handia is not made in the deceased’s house. So the relatives bring Handia with them to help the household. In this study, it is observed that Handia occupies a most important place in day-to-day life of the tribal community.

In the preparation and business of Handia, the tribal women play the key role, as its production is regarded as kitchen work. It also generates significant income for the household. By promoting Handia preparation and sales, the tribal women have been able to make economic gains.

Methodology

The present study has been undertaken in five villages of Keonjhar district as part of a livelihood research project. The study is based entirely on primary information collected from the households, information which is both quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative data were collected about production processes, methods of sale, reciprocal trading relations and seasonal household consumption. The quantitative data were also collected on the seasonal production of Handia and Ranu, income within and outside the village, investment of labour time, total expenditure on production, consumption and sale of Ranu (in kg) and Handia (in litres), differentiated by season. Focus group discussions in villages were also used to collect information regarding the social, cultural, and religious importance of Handia in their society. This study is basically designed with a holistic in-depth approach. Some case studies of Munda women and non-tribal business households were also conducted to obtained detailed qualitative and quantitative information. We also visited the Handia Hat and Handia Godown to clarify the marketing procedure of Handia and Ranu. Group discussions with non-tribal persons involved in the Handia business were also conducted, the perception of Handia by other people was investigated, and a case study of non-tribal people was made.
We also collected secondary information regarding the impact of Handia on health and legal status from the Medical and Excise department of Keonjhar District.

Uses of Handia

Handia is used for two purposes – consumption and business. Previously, tribal people used Handia only for consumption, but during the last 30 years it has also been used for business purposes.

Consumption purpose

The tribal people (from children to old people) take Handia as an important drink at breakfast, lunch and dinner. One can manage for 10 to 15 days without any other food. During the summer season, Handia saves the body from sunstroke. By drinking Handia, the tribals become more energetic during work. Similarly, in the time of cold, it heats the body.

It also compensates for the deficiency of food for as much as 10 to 15 days for tribal people who cannot get even one meal a day. So Handia is regarded as a supplementary food for tribals. Nowadays other caste people also consume Handia for intoxication. As a result, Handia has become commercialized gradually. But these consumers do not allow their children to consume Handia.

Business purpose

During the last 30 years the tribal people have used Handia for business purposes. When the Munda tribes from Bihar migrated to Orissa and settled in different parts of Keonjhar and other districts, they initiated the Handia business and gradually it spread to the tribes in Orissa, who were attracted by the Handia practices (Munda and Santhal tribes). It is a secondary source of livelihood for most of the tribals. Some tribals accept the business as a primary source of income. Most Munda and some Mahanta and Majhi tribal women prepare and sell Handia among the neighbours and at the market. There are four categories of households engaged in the Handia business:

Households engaged in “Ranu” preparation and sale at the market. (Ranu is a tablet composed of rice and roots, which is necessary for preparing Handia). Households engaged in the Handia business who purchase “Ranu” from others. Households engaged in both “Ranu” and Handia preparation and business. Households engaged in collecting roots from the forest and selling them at the market.

Composition of Handia

Uncleansed rice (of a slightly reddish colour) and the tablet “Ranu” are used to prepare Handia. Ranu has various local names, e.g. Mullica / Mulikia and Bakhar. Some of the tribals told us that they did not previously use this tablet, but nowadays they use it for business purpose to make the Handia more intoxicating. Some of the tribals also informed us that the tablet has always been used in Handia production because without it the prepared Handia will decompose.

Complete paper available @ http://handiya.blogspot.com/2008/06/handia-source-of-livelihood-of-adivasi.html

Ven
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

7. Well researched and written but the real life experience and effect of its use or misuse is quite different.I am saying this from my personal knowledge.It is true that hadia is used for all social and cutural and religious purposes and no social occasion is complete without the use of Handia. But the use of this toxic drink beyond these occasions make it harmful, dangerous and addictive. Some of the symptoms stated in the article when they do not drink are nothing but symptoms of addiction of alcohol. This leads to more drink and deterioration of their physical and mental health specially with poor tourishment,neglect of thier family, debt and destruction. They have to understand this and the outside observers should appreciate and discourage the tribal people to do something about this rather than just say that it is part of their culture. The Christian missonaries understood this and tried to forbid the use of alcohol in the converted tribals.But unfortunately, now it is spreading amongst them and all other non tribal educated people as a fashion.But they can afford the luxury and the cost and protect their health and family.So let us all appreciate that this is a bad habit and we should discourage them from using Handia.

Dhuni
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

8. Dear friend,
Very sorry to say that let us not get intoxicated to research on handia. leave the handia with tribals. 40% lands not cultivated in Jharkhand if it is done let them drink more Handia as much as they want because it will kill their body pain. Is it possible for all of us who loves Jharkhand to think about it so that it really responds to the need of tribals.

Pradyu.
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

9. Storm in a tea (sorry, hadia) cup?
No, there’s a real issue. And the issue is adulterated, commercialized liquor in the adivasi areas. I have come across adulterated paurau in the plains of Mayurbhanj, Midnapore, adulterated ippa sara in the Chenchu lands of Nallamala, Andhra. Paurau or ippa sara are really the same drink, distilled from flowers of Bassia latifolia in a millenia-old technique by various Austric and Dravidian speaking peoples in India. A wonderful drink, I have had it in its purest form, home-brewed from matkom flowers collected from the forest by the women of the family, in the home of a Santhal friend of mine. But I also know how a businessman in a large village near Baripada makes and sells spurious brew to local adivasi villagers and has made a fortune out of tricking unsuspecting villagers at the cost of their health and wellbeing, ironically coopting (subverting?) their culture to do so. And sorry to say, while I am all for harmony, and I am not an adivasi myself, this businessman is a diku.

The hadia business was not into such dangerous territory when I was last around in those parts. It was mostly entrepreneurship by adivasi women. It does have potentiasl danger areas though.

Yes, and while hadia is still clean and safe, it’s a great pick me up while working one’s back off. Nothing like a hadia on a hot summer day of hard labour. Cheers to that!
And a warm Johar to all who agree.

Arnab Sen
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

10. Or venkat, would we criticize the ganja, bhang and charas consuming habits of Hindus because it is related to Hindusim? No will we not, would we?

It is interesting how you define Hadia as a religious drink. Lord forgive venkat cos he does not know the limits of his ignorance.

Isaac
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

11. Dear All,

It is a fact that Handia is cheaper than other alcoholic beverages. So its wide use.

Question comes, if all distilled modern alcohol becomes cheaper and cost at par with Handia, what will happen? I think this will be taken by many civilised and so called urbanites as frequent as tea. In this situation, should it be encouraged ?.

In my view any alcoholic drink/narcotics has some effects on society. Only its limitations are to be ensured by the social engineers/reformers .

Balaram Sahu
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

12. Tribals throughout India have their own method of brewing liquor from various raw materials, grains, fruits, sugar ofious forms..etc.nd each brew has its own speciality local ingredients. This has been going on since times immemorial and nobody interferes with their traditional practices, a part of their culture and part of religious rites, if Isaac is unaware of.

They do not booze to such levels as civilised Societies as we find daily boozed youngsters involved in car accidents in the metropolitan cities in particular. In Gandhiji’s India, Kerala has the highest percapita consumption o alcohol and Govt. Corporation (State Beeverages Corpn.) promotes drinking by retailing liquor at every location in the State!! Isaac perhaps comes from Kerala on evangelical mission to tribal Jharkand.

Ganja,Charas..etc. are mainly traded by the cultured Scoiety to enslave the innocent tribals, as British did to Chinese in the previous Century and traded HongKong on a 100 year lease. These were the Catholic missionaries in action at HongKong and Macao in trading Ganja and Charas to the addicted Chinese.

Most of the carriers of drugs and bootleggers in the Country are non-Hindu-s though they form an insignificant minority in the Country.

S Kumar
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

13. Eastablishment of change process is needful than debat. We should try to upgrade ourself from cast and religion politics.

I hope you may understand the one of the barrier behind Jharkhand development.

Rajeev Pandey
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

14. Hi,

It was a pleasure to go through the views expressed by the members.. infact it is a good learning experience for me. Though i hail from Jharkhand itself, however, my knowledge about the cultures here is quite poor.

I strongly disagree with what Mr. S. Kumar said and would go with the views of Mr. Dhuni.

Any form of intoxication, as per my thinking is bad… be it consuming the same during cultural activities or under the grab of tradition. Traditions are meant to be changed for the betterment.

I request Mr. Kumar to traverse the place he resides in, if it is a tribal area, esp. during evenings and night.. he will definitely find small huts created by the local persons for the purposes of sale and consumption of toxic substances… be it the traditional form of Hadia or the complex form of Ganja.. and people do it just for the sake of releiving their pain, sufferings, etc.. and thereafter develop into a habit..

Its just like the case that consumed once, you get addict to it… though innocently… and it not only affects the financial position but also the family as well…

We all know about the after effects of consumption esp. in teh weeker sectors.. of the community..

Hope we could develop a means to uplift them to ensure that they do not fall into these methods.

Ashutosh
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

15. I also fully agree. It is our responsibility to educate the poor about the harms from addiction and hand-hold them to learn the benefits from quality life style. Unfortunately the Government and educated population are least taking necessary initiatives in Jharkhand to overcome such unhealthy traditions and culture. We must all agree to fight against all such addictive products which cause financial and health damages, especially to the poor and disadvantaged consumers.

Bejon Misra
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

16. Dear All,

Sometimes we tribals are much insulted in public domain by the so-called cultured and civilized people. I don’t know whether you discuss on tribal issues in public domain to help us or destroy our culture, identity and ethos. I know there are many so-called cultured communities who can not sleep without a drink and much more but those matters don’t become the matter of discussion in public domain.

I don’t see anyone discussing on the basic culture, tradition and ethos of the tribals which are community livings, gender equality, community ownership, common property, democratic decision (traditional self governance), autonomy, honesty and non-profit.
••
Many people, civil society organizations and NGOs who are engaged in promoting tribal culture and traditions just romanticise, define it as per their interest and confined it to songs, dances and paintings. This clearly shows that how much people are really concerned about it? I know we tribal will always suffer till we would be able to defeat the ruling ideologies and we are on the way to challenge…!

Gladson Dungdung
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

17. Dear Gladson Dungdung

Really, we feel pain to read you, how could we leave any one to destroy the community whom we are talking.

Could we think and plan to stop romanticise activity by such type of people, please suggest possible way to stop it.

Rajeev Pandey
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

18. Dear Friends,

No one wants to lose their business and especially in the era of globalization where the market determines everything including your thought, expression and action. These days I really laugh to see the activities of NGOs headed by non-tribals (except a few good people). They organize some tribal dance, singing activities like Duran, Paika, group dance. They provide some instruments to the villagers, publish the news in media and send the paper clippings to their donors. The donors also feel so happy. I also surprise to see the activities of media because they never carry out the stories when tribals do their cultural activities in normal way.

For example there is a tradition of our village that we used to gather in akhra (place of cultural activities), sing and dance together on every saturday. But I have never seen any media carrying out the story. These days many NGOs are working in my village they come to village on Saturday, sit nearby Akhra and take some photographs. Sometimes they also bring some white people to show the event. They tell them in english that they are reviving our culture and get huge donation from the donor agencies. Really good business…! There are hundreds of examples like this and many would be shocked if I write everything like this…!

How to over come these…? One way is to expose those people and NGOs in public domain who are doing the business like this and ask them that how much money they get from whom in the name of protection and conversation of the tribal culture and tradition. Ask they how many tribals work in their NGOs and in what positions? Ask them to live in the village with tribals may be for 3 to 5 years (not more because they will grab the land) for real experience then only they would come to know the real tribal culture, tradition which would become guiding force for them in their real work.

I don’t see any NGO promoting the basic tribal culture except dance, singing and painting these are a few manifestations therefore I would suggest they must lear it first but they will not do it I know. Because unless they break the basic culture of tribals they won’t be able to take away the resources of tribals.

Gladson Dungdung
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

19. Dear Gladson,

I have seen some of your comments. Interesting a valid.

Especially regarding the speciality of tribal culture and identity.(in another mail)

I am a non-tribal today, but all of us have had tribal ancestors long back. This is how humanity developed over aperiod of several millennia, especially before ten thousand BC.

There are two kinds of problematic attitutdes I encounter: One of the non tribal intellectuals trying to ‘develop’ the tribals; and another, of tribal intellectuals trying to romanticise the tribal identity and culture.

A better course is to define human development, and understand the processes of human evolution, and then think in what direction the tribal communities may gry to evolve; or maintain their presnet culture for ever.

P. K. Siddharth
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

20. Dear friends,
whatever we are writing in the net are our thoughts which are are manifesting as reactions.there are few inherrent questins like , Howmany tribal or tribal leaders are aware of their real culture ? The development workers culture is completely different from tribal culture.ARE, We the internet insects really interested to go to village & educate the people and change our own culture ?I have seen in jharkhand NGOs running between pillar to post for money. The issue is not the tribal or non tribal the issue is NEED.

Anyway iff i have hurt any one or anyones thought it is un intentional.

Pradyut.
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

21. During my official tours to the various locations all over the Country, towards the developmental programmes under Special Component Plan and Tribal Development Plan for Rural and Tribal Developments under the Centre, I have visited several such far off locations in the interiors of even forests and observed the life of these people, deprived of the modern facilities.

What I have noted is my personal observation of almost all these locations, where the brewing and drinking of alcohol in different forms are in vogue since hundreds of years without any toxicity and deaths due to poisoning. Liquor poisoning is of recent origin when Methanol, a cheap substitute is added to the drinks.

Indeed drinking alcohol is bad for the health of the Society. But these tribals and rural artisans/ workers who do the physical work throughout the day, often in the open exposed to the extremes of weather, try to get some solace by a few drinks at night to forget the pain.

Nevertheless, I do not justify this practice but this is my observation. Drinking is a Social evil, but it is ubiquitous from the top to the bottom of every Society irrespective of their stature or economic levels.

To develop the tribals to be self sufficient and active, we should encourage their traditional skills in bamboo works or collecting honey and forest produce like several Ayurvedic raw materials from the trees and plants, or agriculture and horticulture..etc., providing them inputs and providing a marketing channel by a Govt. organisation like Forest Development Corporation. The conditions and modus operandi varies from location to location.

Once the tribals are assured of good return for their activities through such market support from a Govt. run body, their standard of life would improve and schools up to the middle levels could be stablished in the tribal clusters to study up to say Std.V or VIII to begin with.

What I have noticed in most of these areas is the attempts by evangelical groups to convert these tribals to Christianity in the guise of helping them- which they do by finances, clothing..etc. until they are converted.

Service to Tribals should be without any strings attached and they should be allowed to continue their faiths unhindered or incidents like Staines and India Vision may recur when situations go out of control

S Kumar
Member, Jharkhand Forum
http://www.jharkhand.org.in/members

July 2, 2008 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

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