Intoxicating Tribal Liquor in India

Last year during the month of April I tooka one week break from my work, andI decided to travel to Chahattisgarh to explore the tribal life and to chill out in the greenery forest and waterfalls. After a couple days of sightseeing various places,  I came to know from the local people about an interesting liquor that is a very popular drink for the local tribes.

Photo from Flickr

The liquor name is Mahua which is made from the flowers of the tree called Mahua. It has a very strong alcohol content with a pungent taste to it. The taste is not so good, but I managed to drink a glass of distilled Mahua. Within minutes I can feel the alcohol drumming in my head. Pure Mahua has an alcohol content of between 20-50% depending on the dilution added to the drink. You can buy the drink almost everywhere in the tribal villages and forests. Generally the Mahua Liquor is sold in bottles or in leaf cups (the tribes make the nice looking bio-degradable cups using the leaves).

For the tribes in the Bastar region this drink is a cultural heritage-both men and women drink Mahua during their dance and music celebrations. The tribes pick the flowers from the Mahua tree during the summer time and use it to prepare the drink. The Mahua tree is a semi-evergreen tree that gives flowers during the months of April-June. The flowers are rich in sugar, vitamins, and calcium and the tribal people mix the flowers in their daily food preparations.

At end of my trip I was back to my work. I have been living in India for more than 30 years since my birth. But I did not know about this amazing tree called Mahua and that liquor is prepared from its flowers. I do not know who came up with the idea of creating liquor from the flowers of Mahua among the tribes, and when talking with the local people, no one knew when or how it was started. But tribal people have been preparing and drinking this liquor for a long time without the knowledge of modern fermentation processes. I was happy with the time I spent in the tribal region and I learned several new things about the tribes and their tradition.

Author: Kumar Ram

I am a traveler and blogger, I love to write about India and its rich culture.


  1. Liquor has been mentioned in all parts of ancient history and civilization. Some how the man-kind can able to identify it either naturally or artificially. The tribal people of India is no different.

  2. You can see animals getting drunk after eating these flowers. There are stories of deers and such animals getting intoxicated after eating the flowers. That is how it must have been discovered.

  3. This is also what 50 elephants drank in a small village on Nov 4, 2012. They consumed 2.5 gallons (50 litres) in a short period of time, before tearing down 3 houses as they searched for more.

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