Photos: Making Mahua -- wine from a flower sacred to Chhattisgarh tribes

Mahua, or Madhuca longifolia, is considered sacred in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand because of its medicinal values and as a source of sustenance for many. The tropical tree, which grows in abundance is also preferred for its flowers, which have a unique fragrance and are used to produce a clear spirit of the same name --a major component of any celebration in the communities, and made in small home breweries in abundance.

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST 8 Photos
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A tribal woman collects Mahua flowers to prepare a fruit wine of the same name -- an indigenous drink also called Mahuli -- which is popular among the tribes of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. The tree that bears this flower and the drink itself are considered of great significance and a part of tribal cultural heritage. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

A tribal woman collects Mahua flowers to prepare a fruit wine of the same name -- an indigenous drink also called Mahuli -- which is popular among the tribes of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. The tree that bears this flower and the drink itself are considered of great significance and a part of tribal cultural heritage. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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Mahua, or Madhuca longifolia trees at Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh. This tropical tree is found largely in the central and north Indian plains and forests. Cultivated in warm and humid regions for its seeds, flower and wood, the Mahua tree hold a position of reverence. Its wood for instance, is considered holy for pyres among the Koyas. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Mahua, or Madhuca longifolia trees at Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh. This tropical tree is found largely in the central and north Indian plains and forests. Cultivated in warm and humid regions for its seeds, flower and wood, the Mahua tree hold a position of reverence. Its wood for instance, is considered holy for pyres among the Koyas. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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A tribal woman carries a haul of Mahua flowers on her head. Climbing or cutting the tree is taboo among some tribes. During picking season, women and children head out early in the morning to clean the floor beneath trees and return with mature flowers that have fallen naturally. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

A tribal woman carries a haul of Mahua flowers on her head. Climbing or cutting the tree is taboo among some tribes. During picking season, women and children head out early in the morning to clean the floor beneath trees and return with mature flowers that have fallen naturally. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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These edible flowers are also used to make syrup for medicinal purposes and can also be used to make jams. In many parts of Bihar the sun-dried Mahua flower is ground into flour to make various kinds of bread. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

These edible flowers are also used to make syrup for medicinal purposes and can also be used to make jams. In many parts of Bihar the sun-dried Mahua flower is ground into flour to make various kinds of bread. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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A rich source of sugar, the flowers are fermented to make the local wine. These musky scented flowers bloom when most of the leaves start falling between February and April. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

A rich source of sugar, the flowers are fermented to make the local wine. These musky scented flowers bloom when most of the leaves start falling between February and April. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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The main ingredients used for making wine are Chhowa Gud (granular molasses) and dried Mahua flowers. The finished wine is similar to the Japanese sake and is infused with the distinct smell of the flower. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

The main ingredients used for making wine are Chhowa Gud (granular molasses) and dried Mahua flowers. The finished wine is similar to the Japanese sake and is infused with the distinct smell of the flower. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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Tribal women seen selling the wine in a local marketplace in Dantewada district. An essential of any celebration among communities that revere the Mahua, the wine is enjoyed freely by men and women and is almost a part of winding down the day’s activities in the evening. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Tribal women seen selling the wine in a local marketplace in Dantewada district. An essential of any celebration among communities that revere the Mahua, the wine is enjoyed freely by men and women and is almost a part of winding down the day’s activities in the evening. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST
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Mahua is an almost clear liquid with a hint of cloudiness. Its primary ingredient found in abundance, this crowd favourite is made easily in home distilleries and quite inexpensive for those buying it. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Mahua is an almost clear liquid with a hint of cloudiness. Its primary ingredient found in abundance, this crowd favourite is made easily in home distilleries and quite inexpensive for those buying it. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON APR 12, 2018 04:02 PM IST

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