Tamul & Paan- The Pride Of Assamese Culture
Image Credit: Tamul & Paan/ Instagram - saragopaliyer

Paan is derived from the Sanskrit term 'Parna,' which literally means leaf, and its therapeutic virtues may be found in Indian mythology as well as Ayurveda. Ayurveda sees betel leaf as an effective cure for several health problems and maladies caused by air and bile, and it has a 5000-year history of governing Indian cuisine culture. 

These green leaves that have high medical values are an inseparable element of any auspicious celebrations in Indian culture and also considered as a sign of good fortune. And Tamul which means areca nut paired with paan is one of the best digestive combo that people had been having for ages. 

Considered as a high honorary and significant combination in Assamese society Tamul- Paan is simply translates to Areca Nut aka Supari and Betel Leaves in English. Traditionally, in Assam ‘Tamul Paan' is eaten with a bit of lime which is commonly called 'chun' and tobacco, commonly called 'sadha'.

Sneha Saikia, an Assamese homechef who lives in Delhi adds “Tamul is raw beetle nut . Since it grows in abundance, people loves to chew the combi with a dash of lime after meals . Paan and beetle nut is auspicious and pure in Hindu culture . In Assam too it is considered auspicious and used in pujas and also offers to elders while doing pronaam. People also ferment the tamul to get intoxicated”. 

It's a known fact that Ahom kings were known to be big consumers of betel nuts and leaves and they used PaanTamul for all auspicious occasions. The kings also carried along bundles of Paan and Tamul with them while traveling. They used to chew nuts and leaves while sitting in court  during their day’s work and the man who prepared the betel nuts and leaves was given the title of 'Tamuli'. This dignitary even had an overseeing official, the 'Tamuli Phukan'. Today it’s more than a socially rooted traditions, tamul-paan is used to honour someone, welcome guests, or in binding relations, in rituals of marriage, invitations for weddings, as a token of marriage bonds, almost every auspicious custom.

Further adding Sneha says “I always buy from Humayupur for my stock, especially in winters . It helps to keep the body warm, while back home it is always there as we grow both tamul and paan”. 

Offered to guest as a sign of respect, Tamul paan is served in a bell metal utensil called Bota. Tamul paan is often served at the end of an Assamese meal. So much so that visiting religious places is considered impossible if there is no 'Tamul Paan' with the visitors. Praying and offering 'Tamul Paan' to the gods is considered auspicious. When the nut is green or orange which means unripe or ripe areca nuts are freshly picked and then fibrous shell is removed and consumed with betel leaves.