Some personal insights into brewing and drinking alcoholic beverages in adivasi India.
The practice is very old is certainly not imported from the west.
Ancient oral and written texts in India refer to alcohol and psychotropics.
Alcohol and psychotropic plants have also been used therapeutically in ancient medical systems in India.
Mahul and hadia have been made from Bassia latifolia flowers and millet grains - so are as clean or unclean as wines and beers respectively
Mahul (a.k.a. paurau, ippa sara) is brewn by communities in vast parts of central India and the peninsula. I have had home-brewn paurau in Santhal villages. The drink is brewn hygenically and I have never had any health issue.
Over-drinking is a serious problem in adivasi areas
Even more serious is the monetization of alcohol because a generation or two back people crewed their own drink which was clean and healthy and now alcohol is produced by unscrupulous businessmen who use poor raw materials and the brew is often toxic
Many of these unscrupulous businessmen are 'diku' as a Jharkhandi adivasi would call them - outsiders.I have personally come across the bad liquor monopoly of a bania from Dhenkanal who has a whole cluster of villages in Mayurbhanj, Orissa under his evil thumb and brews his liquor in a forested region in neighbouring West Bengal. Needless to say some of these unscrupulous liquor mafiosi are local adivasis.Seen that in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh.
It is important to understand that brewing and drinking one's own liquor is largely a harmless habit and home brewn liquor is not toxic. What has really damaged whole adivasi populations is monetised (or commoditised) liquor, brewed by exploiters, many or most of them outsiders. Commoditised alcohol needs no effort to make and is cheap. It can be drunk copiously and is potentially toxic.
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