Paan is the Hindi word for the Betel leaf. The tradition of chewing paan is deeply rooted in India. According to Sushruta, the father of ancient Indian medicine, paan keeps mouth clean, strengthens the voice, tongue and teeth, and guards against diseases. It is also said to aid in digestion and purification of blood.

The heart-shaped betel-leaf, or piper betel, is preferably plucked when still young and tender when it tastes best. The betel creepers are usually cultivated under the shade of large trees, bamboo or thatched roofing to prevent dryness.

A variety of betels leaves are grown in different parts of India. The method of preparation of pan also varies with region. Betel leaves from Bengal are known as Desi Mahoba. The leaves from Benaras (Uttar Pradesh) are called Maghai and Jagannath. Betel leaves from South India are called Chigrlayele.

Chewing Betel leaf has great significance in the wedding rituals of most provinces of India. Folded betel leaf containing lime, catechu, arecanut, and cardamom are distributed at wedding parties.

Updated on 7th June, 2005


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