Ever seen Indians spitting out red substances from their mouths and having
their lips conspicuously stained red ?
Those red substances are actually chewed betel nuts. The betel nuts are
chewed mainly by the Indians and Malays, from countries like India, Malaysia
The nuts are usually removed from the betel or areca palm
fruits. Softened by boiling, the nuts are then sliced, dried in the sun
before being grated into fine, thin shreds. To enjoy betel chewing, one must
spread lime on the betel leaf, then sprinkle some grated betel nuts on it,
fold up the leaf and chew in the mouth. The gums, teeth and lips will then
be stained red and later turn black if the habit is continued with no proper
Long ago in the past, betel nuts had already proven their usefulness.
Before the emergence of cosmetics, women used to color their lips red with
betel nuts. It was only after the invention of lipsticks that betel nuts
were used as nerve soothing medicine instead.
In India, betel nuts are chewed during important occasions like births,
marriages and death ceremonies. It was believed that Emperors long ago sent
betel nuts as tributes to other foreign
kings. Before carrying out capital punishment, prisoners were also given
betel nuts, probably as "farewell gifts". Even in some countries now, betel
nuts are offered as gifts of apology or as hints from hosts to their guests
about their overstay.
The preparation and serving of betel nuts are also viewed significantly
in India. The skills are used to gauge
and choose ideal daughter-in-laws. The more skilful the lady is, the better
the family background she has and of course, the more ideal she is. To bless
a bride with good fortune, betel leaves are often used to cover her lap
during the wedding ceremony. By pouring the juice of betel leaves upon the
expecting mother's navel and observing the direction of the liquid flow, the
sex of the foetus could be predicted too.
In more developed countries, doctors have claimed that betel leaves are
rich in vitamin C. They are also good for relieving patients with breathing
difficulties. On the other hand, there are some medical experts who
discovered that the betel-chewing may lead to mouth cancer. Whatever the
conclusion is, I am sure that the traditional chewing of betel leaves and
nuts will still be practiced by Indians in India and other parts of the
Long ago, betel nuts were used by women to color their lips
red. After cosmetics were launched, betel nuts were used as medicine to
sooth nerves. Ancient emperors used betel nuts as tributes to foreign kings
and prisoners sentenced to death were given betel nuts. In India, betel nuts
are chewed during important ceremonies. Even today, betel nuts are offered
as gifts or apology, or as hints to guests overstaying their welcome. The
preparation and serving of betel nuts are used as tests for grading
daughter-in-laws. Betel leaves are used to bless brides and the juice to
help predict the sex of unborn babies. Some doctors recommend Vitamin C rich
betel leaves for patients with breathing difficulties.
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