A family in Ranchi is stubbornly sticking to producing mustard oil in a traditional way in deference to its patriarch’s initiative who was once asked by Mahatma Gandhi to do so.
The Sahu family proudly owns and runs the traditional oil mill christened Gram Udhyog Bhadar on Ranchi’s busy Saheed Chowk area. It is the only one of its kind operating in Jharkhand.
The mill’s prototype was developed in Wardha ashram by the late Shyam Kishore Sahu whom the Mahatma had asked to extract oil from mustard seeds for freedom fighters. When Sahu returned to Ranchi, he set up several units in the city in 1930s.
In the last 85 years, all but the one on Saheed Chowk downed their shutters due to losses in the face of advanced technology.
The family not only retained the one at Saheed chowk but are also running it with the same zeal and vigour their father used to run it. Popularly called ghani, the mill remains a major landmark in the city.
“My father in his last days told us that since it’s a memory of the Mahatma, we should run it at all cost. Over the years, we diversified our business but left the mill untouched,” said, Pratap Chandra Sahu, the founder’s son.
Mahtma Gandhi visited the oil mill in March 1940 and noted in the visitors’ book “Is Bhandar ki unnati ho” (May this store flourish). The family has retained the visitors’ book as a badge of pride.
It produces barely 15-16 litres of mustard oil per day which is sold at Rs 160 a litre. The owners offer Rs 2 discount on Gandhi Jayanti.
“Over the nine decades of its existence, the mill saw only one change -- a motor replacing the paired oxen in 1985,” said Upendra Sahu, a staff at the mill.
Customers vouch for the purity of this ghani oil. “The oil from this mill is strongly recommended for babies’ massage. We are buying ghani oil since the last five decades,” said Aditya Vikram Jaiswal, a businessman.