CultureInformationalWhat’s old Is new! Mead in India

8 April, 2020by Cerana Meads0
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These last few months we finalised on our site for the meadery and have started working on our Excise license! So exciting times are coming-a-closer everyday! But that resulted in delay in publishing this post.. Sorry about that.

Well, as they say, better late than never! So, without further ado, let’s bring the ship back home with this post.

Mead in India!!

The major proof that mead was an important part of the Indian culture is the fact that you can find it mentioned in the oldest written text that is available even now… Rigveda.

MENTIONED IN ANCIENT TEXTS

Mandala 5 of the Rigveda is dedicated to all the Gods (Vishwedeva, universal Gods). Sukta 43 from this Mandala has Richa 3 and 4 that say:

Adhvaryus, make the sweet libations ready, and bring the beautiful bright juice to Vāyu.

God, as our Priest, be thou the first to drink it: we give thee of the mead to make thee joyful.

Two arms-the Soma’s dexterous immolators-and the ten fingers set and fix the press-stone.

The stalk hath poured, fair with its spreading branches, the mead’s bright glittering juice that dwells on mountains

THE GODESS OF WINE AND ALCOHOL, MADHUDEVATA

What more, but the name of the goddess of intoxicating drinks is Madhudevata!

They say that Seeta used to enjoy a drink called maireyaka which was a kind of spiced wine made with grapes and honey

DOES MADHU MEAN HONEY OR MEAD?

The word Madhu, which we use and know today as only honey, was synonymous with intoxicating drinks as can be shown by subhashitas like:

ऐश्वर्यमत्तः पापिष्ठो मधुपानमदादपि  |
ऐश्वर्यमदमातानां गतिरूर्ध्वा न विद्यते ||

In this subhashit, the word Madhupaan means consumption of intoxicating drinks. A few other references suggest that Madhupaan was an accepted social drinking event in ancient India.

You can see that since Madhu is synonymous with honey as well as intoxicating drinks. Hence, we feel that it is possible that the same might be true with Madhuparka. A lot of Indian weddings still follow this custom of madhuparka which is welcoming of the guests with a mixture of honey and curd. What if in ancient times, this mixture was first allowed to ferment and then served? It has been described clearly in some sutras that mead should be consumed when entering a new house for the first time, or when a bride enters her husband’s home for the first time. Don’t they all sound connected to each other?

We’d like to think that basically any sort of situation where ice needed to be broken, a a lacto fermented mead, or a sour mead did the trick. We now know that this sour mead is useful to increase your body’s resistance to antibiotic resistant bacteria:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-mead/honey-based-mead-may-curb-antibiotic-resistance-say-makers-idUSKBN0OQ17Y20150610

Did our ancestors know that already? Interesting thought…

MEAD IN AYURVEDA

Charaka Sanhita, the pioneering and authoritative book on Indian medicine never frowned upon consumption of alcohol, if done right. All our asavas and arishtas are basically mild alcoholic beverages made by fermenting either honey (read, meads) or jaggery.

This book mentions a detailed recipe of honey wine made in iron vessels, with certain herbs and leaves (doesn’t it sound very similar to our metheglins?) that is used to cure leprosy and other skin ailments. Wine, vinegar and honey was recommended during certain seasons in the year to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Someone ought to so some research on this!!!

SOME THINGS TRANSCEND TIME AND INVASIONS

In western culture, alcohol has always been an essential part or aahaara, where as in Indian culture, it has been a source of entertainment, means to letting your hair down and have some fun or krida. It is natural therefore to see that in western countries drinks are had along with food while in India, we first enjoy our drinks and then head to the dinner table. This was as true even a thousand years ago as it is now. And that is also true for the kind of food we ate with our bowl full of meads in ancient India.

Kanakadasa’s Mohanatarangini vividly describes scenes of social drinking and merriment after giving libations of alcoholic beverages to Madhudevata. He actually describes the munchies that went along with meads and suras! It’s quite fun to read actually.

List has typically remained the same even after a thousand years… Roast meat, deep fried vegetables, fried gram, fish and egg fries, peppery tender mangoes (want to know what this was, it sounds yummy!), pulp of bilva seasoned with salt, ginger and pepper.

He also tells what people did to avoid hangovers! A dose of ghee and some herbal medicine was recommended.

I for one definitely would travel back to this time in our history if a time machine were ever invented.

Don’t we still see that that difference has carried through in this subcontinent even after thousands of years and innumerable invasions from different cultures? Mead brings people together and Mahuwines is set to become the means for doing that.

We will soon bring this amazing amazing drink with so much history to your cellar..

Do write to us at mahuwines@gmail.com or comment on the blog to let us know if you enjoyed reading about this hidden treasure.

Prost!

Sláinte!

Wassail!!

Letenachin!

To your health!

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