MATURE SWEET MAHUA FLOWER WINE
Next up : Dessert , with a Forest Flavour
Without a doubt , it’s time to savour
The fabled delicacy of tribal lore
The mottled green-and -orange-skinned Tthetthayitaangar Papayas ,
lowered with ropes into deep wells to cool ,
Then cut open in the hot afternoon and sliced, never peeled ,
the black seeds nestled in moist fibre never thrown away
but kept for recycling into the Five Seed Maghaz .
She shouts with sudden delight , biting into the firm cool saffron flesh
The sweetness a sheer shock of pleasure: everyone smiles indulgently
And now to imbibe the heavy sweet soporific Mahua Flower Wine
Tomorrow to more marching : Today to celebrate.
The Thaap of the Maandar drum decrees that tribal dancing must begin.
She is no stranger , dancing with abandon in the Jhumar group,
Arms wound around waists and matching rhythmic steps :
The village hugs the newcomer, and makes her their very own .
BETEL LEAF AND ORAON ROUNDELAY
Chewing on Green Heart – Shaped Betel Leaf , astringent
With areca- nut folded into cones verdant
The satiated Simdegan diners reflect ,
And ruminating , pronounce to this happy effect :
No papayas as sweet as those of Tthetthayitthaangar :
No snakes more deadly
No ants redder or more sour
when ground into a chutney blazing with red chillies
No Hadiya more effervescent :
No Mahua more intoxicating
No company more invigorating ,
than that of the Oraon :
These are riches
beyond the dreams of Avarice
The Hosts are delighted :
Now isn’t that nice ?
And then the Bison -Horn-Pipe calls ,
In Simdega Forest’s Tree- pillared halls
Thrilling wandering minstrels strum
And all the tribal elders hum :
Dance till you drop , O Tall Oraon Braves !
Dance, O Maidens of the Sidelong Glances, Singing , Sloe- eyed and Satin-Skinned ,
To the beat of the Maandar Drum !
The cry rises near and far :
Johar , Jharkhand ! Hul Johar !
( ASA )