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Monday, November 8, 2010

PAAN or Betel Leaf


PAAN or Betel Leaf


 
In the present article, we will start with 'Paan' commonly known as betel leaf which found all through out the island (in Mauritius as well in Tamil Nadu, India mostly and I think it's the same in Trinidad & Tobago as well). Paan is mostly used in Mauritius mainly in religious ceremonies.

Serving Paan in India is a tradition, synonymous with hospitality and culture. Paan is an indispensable part of Indian history. This plant belongs to the family Piperaceae. Its origin has been traced in South India.

There are many stories link with the betel leaves. One is that, once a group of devotees traveled to hell (patal) to worship the snake god 'Nag raj' who being overwhelmed with their upaasana gifted them a betel plant saying that the leaves of this plant would play an important part in their lives. How true this has proved to be seen in the fact, that among Hindus, no ritual is performed can be complete without the betel leaf.

Mantra for offering a betel leaf:
Om Pugipalam mahad divyam nagavalli dalairyutam
Elavangasanyuktam tambulam pratigrihayatam
Meaning: Be kind O Lord, to accept betel nut, cardamon and clove.

Apart from Hindus, even the Moghul rulers of India grew to relish the Paan and no 'darbar' or 'mehfil1 was deemed to be over, unless and until all those attending it had been given Paan.

MEDICINAL VALUE OF PAAN

Paan stimulates the heart and enhances digestion as it is richin essential amino acids particularly Glumtamic, Luciene, Analene, Tryostne, Histidine, Serine and Lysine. It also contains a high percentage of vitamins, namely A, B, B2, B6, B12 and C. It also contains sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose organic acids (maleic, andoxalic), enzymes (catalase, proteinase and diastase en essential minerals.

So next time somebody gives you Paan, think of the of the valuable nutrients it will give to your body from this single green leaf. But, be careful that it does not contain any additives or embellishments like areca-nut, tobacco, and other alkaloids ingredients that are harmful to health.

You must remember that Paan by itself is totally harmless; it is what is added to make it tastier that creates all sorts of problems.

CULTIVATION REQUIREMENTS
This plant should be planted in such a place that it gets both shade and a good amount of sunlight and humidity for a better growth. Usually, the cultivation is done in sheds constructed of hay and bamboos. If, planted under good climatic condition, the betel plant can last for more than 20 years.

© 1996-2010 Akshaye J. P. Sandesh Magazine - MAURITIUS

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