Handia: A Rice Beer Which Holds A Diversified Meaning For The Tribal People
- Pragya Jha
Updated : August 12, 2022 04:08 IST
Handia is a popular rice beer that is less strong than other Indian liquors. It is made by the indigenous people of Madhya Pradesh as well as Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. It usually takes a week to prepare and serve cold.
Many tribal groups and Santhals from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa choose to make Handia at their home. It is believed that in summer this beer calms people down, and during worldly holidays it is customary to offer Handia to God and guests. Initially, Handia was used at festivals and when someone was sick. In the Adivasi society, you can see a good example of gender equality, where both men and women have the same rights when it comes to consuming and preparing Handia. In fact, it is mostly sold by women but this holy drink is prepared by the male member if the housewife has her period during the rite. On festivals like Sarhul and Karma, the priest consecrated it and then distributed it to important people.
There are several versions of this drink and they are known locally under different names. The word Handia or Handiya probably comes from handi which means large clay pot. It is used to ferment rice beer. The process of making rice is quite simple. Dried rice is ground, boiled and then spread for drying. The next step is to store the resulting mixture in large clay pots covered with lard leaves and allow it to sit for three to four days while the rice ferments.
Rice beer is an essential part of the lives of various indigenous peoples around the world. In India, fermented and distilled drinks have always been made from different types of fermented rice. These drinks are mainly prepared and consumed by various tribal communities in northern and eastern India.