Handia: The Source of Livelihood of Tribal Women
A Case Study on Munda Women in Keonjhar District, Orissa

Nirupama Satpathy and Rashmi Ranjan Satpathy

Paper presented at the conference Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: Lessons From Eastern India, 25-27 September 2001, by Nirupama Satpathy, Research Associate (Gender) in Livelihood research project in Keonjhar district of Orissa, and Rashmi Ranjan Satpathy, Research Associate in Livelihood research project in Keonjhar district of Orissa.


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Impact of Handia on tribal people

Uses of Handia
Composition of Handia
The tablet "Ranu”
Processing of Handia

Legal status

Case study of the households preparing Ranu and sell in the market
Case study of households engaged in both Ranu and Handia preparation

Impact of Handia on non-tribal people

Impact of Handia on tribal people

The term "Handia" is used in the Chotanagpur plateau for local consumption. It is a country liquor made from fragmented rice with toxic herbs. It is a liquid substance, which is essential among the tribal community, especially in the Munda and Santhal tribes. Handia is regarded as a popular drink among the tribals of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanja, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Dhenkanal and Angul Districts of Orissa and also in other states like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It is also found among the tribals in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is very difficult to know which tribes initiated the use of Handia. Both Munda and Santhal claim to be the inventor of it. Handia is now a very popular drink in the whole Chotanagpur region. Initially Munda and Santhal used it but nowadays it is getting popular in other castes and other tribes, like Kissan, Ho, Oram and Bhumija. It is also called "Diang" in Munda, “Handi” in Santahaly and “Kusuna” in Kissan.

Handia occupies a pivotal role in the tribal community, socially, culturally and economically. Handia is accepted as a most sacred drink in the Munda and Santhal tribes. It has religious uses and values. Handia is offered to local deities and in dead ancestors' rituals.

The use of Handia is very common in the occasion of marriages, birth anniversaries and festivals. The festivals are: Baa Parba and Nuakhai (Phulabaguni), Akhitrutiya, Raja Parba, Ratha Yatra and Rakhi Parba. Handia is the best treat for guests and friends, and it has been used in this way from time immemorial.

From a social and cultural point of view, Handia binds the tribals together like a string of thread.  

Firstly, during social meetings and social functions (i.e. marriage, birth and death rituals), the tribals greet each other with Handia.

Secondly, while going to friends' or relatives' houses, they take Handia with them as a present. It indicates the status, love and affection of the guests. Similarly, the host also welcomes them with Handia.

Thirdly, at the time of common rituals and cultural functions, the tribal people drink Handia, dance and enjoy themeselves together. During funeral ceremonies, the deceased's household offers Handia to villagers and relatives. But in these days Handia is not made in the deceased's house. So the relatives bring Handia with them to help the household. In this study, it is observed that Handia occupies a most important place in day-to-day life of the tribal community.

In the preparation and business of Handia, the tribal women play the key role, as its production is regarded as kitchen work. It also generates significant income for the household. By promoting Handia preparation and sales, the tribal women have been able to make economic gains.


The present study has been undertaken in five villages of Keonjhar district as part of a livelihood research project. The study is based entirely on primary information collected from the households, information which is both quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative data were collected about production processes, methods of sale, reciprocal trading relations and seasonal household consumption. The quantitative data were also collected on the seasonal production of Handia and Ranu, income within and outside the village, investment of labour time, total expenditure on production, consumption and sale of Ranu (in kg) and Handia (in litres), differentiated by season. Focus group discussions in villages were also used to collect information regarding the social, cultural, and religious importance of Handia in their society. This study is basically designed with a holistic in-depth approach. Some case studies of Munda women and non-tribal business households were also conducted to obtained detailed qualitative and quantitative information. We also visited the Handia Hat and Handia Godown to clarify the marketing procedure of Handia and Ranu. Group discussions with non-tribal persons involved in the Handia business were also conducted, the perception of Handia by other people was investigated, and a case study of non-tribal people was made.

We also collected secondary information regarding the impact of Handia on health and legal status from the Medical and Excise department of Keonjhar District.

Uses of Handia

Handia is used for two purposes - consumption and business. Previously, tribal people used Handia only for consumption, but during the last 30 years it has also been used for business purposes.

Consumption purpose

The tribal people (from children to old people) take Handia as an important drink at breakfast, lunch and dinner. One can manage for 10 to 15 days without any other food. During the summer season, Handia saves the body from sunstroke. By drinking Handia, the tribals become more energetic during work.  Similarly, in the time of cold, it heats the body.

It also compensates for the deficiency of food for as much as 10 to 15 days for tribal people who cannot get even one meal a day. So Handia is regarded as a supplementary food for tribals. Nowadays other caste people also consume Handia for intoxication. As a result, Handia has become commercialized gradually. But these consumers do not allow their children to consume Handia.

Business purpose

During the last 30 years the tribal people have used Handia for business purposes. When the Munda tribes from Bihar migrated to Orissa and settled in different parts of Keonjhar and other districts, they initiated the Handia business and gradually it spread to the tribes in Orissa, who were attracted by the Handia practices (Munda and Santhal tribes). It is a secondary source of livelihood for most of the tribals. Some tribals accept the business as a primary source of income. Most Munda and some Mahanta and Majhi tribal women prepare and sell Handia among the neighbours and at the market. There are four categories of households engaged in the Handia business:

  1. Households engaged in "Ranu" preparation and sale at the market. (Ranu is a tablet composed of rice and roots, which is necessary for preparing Handia).
  2. Households engaged in the Handia business who purchase "Ranu" from others.
  3. Households engaged in both "Ranu" and Handia preparation and business.
  4. Households engaged in collecting roots from the forest and selling them at the market.

Composition of Handia

Uncleansed rice (of a slightly reddish colour) and the tablet “Ranu” are used to prepare Handia. Ranu has various local names, e.g. Mullica / Mulikia and Bakhar. Some of the tribals told us that they did not previously use this tablet, but nowadays they use it for business purpose to make the Handia more intoxicating. Some of the tribals also informed us that the tablet has always been used in Handia production because without it the prepared Handia will decompose.

The tablet "Ranu”

The tablet "Ranu" is bitter in taste. It is composed of sun-dried rice, roots and barks of the following trees:

  1. Agnijhada: This root is also used for medicinal purposes to minimize the lack of appetite.
  2. Patal-garud:  This root also used to cure snakebite.
  3. Bhuinlimba: This root also used for curing skin diseases.
  4. Mahulchhali: This is a bark used for medicinal purposes.
  5. Kuruchi Chhali: This is a bark used for medicinal purposes.
  6. Bhuin Boitalu: This is a fruit generally used to improve digestion.

All the above roots and barks are bitter in taste. These are available in the forest only in the rainy season. So the tribal women keep these roots and barks in stock for the whole year. Some of the tribals collect them from the forest and prepare Ranu at home. Others purchase them at the market. They are also available in small, set amounts, i.e. one handful of the mixture. The cost of one such packet of the mixture is Rs 6/- at the market.

Processing of Ranu

Sun dried rice and the mixture of roots and barks are used to prepare Ranu. First, the bark and roots are dried in the sun and ground together into a powder. Then the sun dried rice is moistened and converted into flour. Mix the rice flour and powder into a dough. After that, roll the dough into small balls. Then lay out straw in four layers, between which the small balls are scattered. Leave the balls to dry for 2 days. The tribals believe that, if the Ranu takes 2 days to dry, and then it will also take 2 days to process the Handia.

While preparing Ranu, some Munda women observe the traditional system that before preparing Ranu, they place rice powder on a leaf in front of the "Pitrupurusa" (ancestor). Then they add water to this powder and make dough. They fold the leaf around the dough and bake it in the fire. Afterwards, the Ranu are served by family members to others. Family members themselves cannot each them. By offering the Ranu mixture to God, they believe that, from that Ranu, they can produce and sell more Handia. The Munda women who are involved in Ranu production prepare it twice a week.

Testing of Ranu

After the Ranu has been prepared, it can be tested by throwing it into the fire. If it blazes up, then it is considered usable and if not, then it is useless.

* Cost Benefit of Ranu Preparation

Particulars Quantity

Market Value

Sun-dried rice 5 kg (10 manas) Rs 30/-
Mixture of barks & roots (1 bundle) According to quantity of rice Rs 10/-
Total   Rs 40/-


From 5 kg of rice one can produce 12 mana Ranu tablets. The cost of one mana Ranu is Rs 15/- only. By investing Rs 40/- for Ranu preparation, one can get Rs 15 * 12 mana = Rs 180/-. So the net profit is: Rs 180/- minus Rs 40/- minus Rs 40/- (two days labour charge) = Rs 100/-.

Processing of Handia

According to indigenous conceptions, Handia is processed by women. Processing takes three days. Uncleansed (bagada) rice and the tablet, Ranu, are used to prepare it. First, the rice is boiled with water in such a way that rice is soaked through with water. Then they break the tablet into pieces, mix these with the boiled rice and keep the mixture untouched for two days. During this time, the mixture will ferment and will have a sour taste.

To extract juice from the mixture, one can squeeze the mixture through a sieve (chaluni) for filtration. For one mana or 1/2 kg rice one can use two tablets (or one, if it is large). The Handia can be hard, medium and soft, depending on how the Ranu is used. The whole process is performed by women. This is because women are always in charge of the kitchen and Handia-making is entirely kitchen work.

* Cost Benefit of Handia Preparation

Particulars Quantity

Market Value

Uncleansed rice 6 kg (12 manas)
Rs 30/-
Ranu 12 nos
Rs 2/-
Rs 32/-


From 6 kg rice it is observed that the tribal women produce 18 litres Handia. They sell the Handia in one-gina amounts (a gina is a local measuring pot with a capacity of 250 ml), which cost only Rs 1/- a piece. By selling 18 litres of Handia, the women get Rs 72/- only. So the net profit is Rs 72/- minus Rs 32/- = Rs 40/- only.

The Munda women prepare a special Handia for religious functions. Before preparing the Handia, they cleanse themselves by bathing, put on clean cloths and also wash the 'Dekchi' (big silver pot) clean. While preparing Handia they eat no food. This Handia is first offered to God and only then may the household members consume it. Others are not allowed to consume this Handia. Munda women prepare Handia two or three times a week. But in the summer season most of them prepare it more often.


As with production, the Munda women also have the responsibility for marketing. Because if women do the selling, there is little chance of credit sale. The men are more liberal and unable to collect the price properly. If a man does not want to pay after buying a drink, a female seller is easily able to put pressure on him for on-the-spot payment. The male drinkers want to drink, but they don’t want to be humiliated by the woman at the market place. Secondly, during selling, the Handia needs to be mixed with water and the men do not know the quantity of water to be mixed.

Selling of Ranu

Ranu is sold in at the market and from homes also. Ranu is sold at the market on the basis of a  local measuring system - "Ganda" (4 nos) and mana (local measuring pot). The cost at the market of Duee Gandas (8 nos) of Ranu is Eka Tanka (one rupee).

Selling of Handia

The Munda women prepare Handia in their houses and sell in the following places:

Selling from home
Most Munda women sell Handia at their homes. People of different castes, from the same and nearby villages, come to consume Handia. A household will sell more if they maintain good relation with their customers.

Selling at daily markets
Some women come regularly to the daily market or sit by the roadside. This gives them a regular income. Their customers are mostly people travelling along the road.

Handia Hat
The main objective of the "Hat" is to provide Handia to people who wish to consume it outside their homes. The tribal people are so used to Handia that they also require it when they are away from their homes. It is noteworthy that the Handia Hat is always held at a distance from the main Hat because if it is located in the main Hat, then it may:

A big Handia Hat is held at Dhenkikot every Saturday. This Hat is completely separated from main market. Nearly 50-60 households from nearby tribal villages come here with Handia for sale. On Saturday, there is also the general "Hat" at Dhenkikot to which people from nearby villages come to purchase vegetable cereals, pulses, clothes etc. There is a get-together of people from different villages. In this situation, the Munda women bring Handia for marketing purpose and sit separately from the main market. After selling their Handia, they purchase basic things at the market. It is seen that the tribal women mostly dominate the Handia Hat, while the general market is dominated by males. As the males are engaged in various work, it is difficult for them to sit still for 8-9 hours selling the Handia, because Handia Hat continues from morning to evening. We also remarked another interesting fact: that the young women coming to the Hat to sell Handia are dressed up in all their finery to attract customers.

Selling by order
Sometimes businessmen and cultivators order Handia from Munda women, so they can provide Handia for their labourers, and attract them to work for them. Also, during social functions, households sometimes order Handia from Munda women, to serve their guests and relatives.

Selling at Jatra (festivals)
Most of the Munda women sell Handia at local festivals, like Raja (3 days), Makara (9 days), Rathayatra (10 days), Dola yatra (13 days). The gathering of Handia-sellers is an additional attraction at all the festivals. The income from these festivals is much greater than the daily income.


There are some limitations adopted at the time of preparing Handia. These are:

  1. The women do not talk with anyone during preparation.
  2. They do not eat watered rice.
  3. When preparing Handia for worship purposes, they bathe early and put on clean clothes before preparation.


The tribals prohibit Handia consumption by people suffering from fever, cold, cough and tuberculosis. Pre-school and school children are also not allowed to drink Handia.


The tribals are so used to Handia that, if they do not take it several disorders are found with them, e.g. headache, bodyache, laziness etc.

Impact in Health & Hygiene

Good Impact
Handia removes jaundice, colic, dysentry; it hinders sun struck and makes the stomach cool.

Bad Impact
Drinking Handia may create inferiority complexes among non-Handia consumers. Some times men expend much money on Handia consumption and this causes familiar disturbances. Excessive drinking of Handia also causes social disturbances and may occasion many diseases like tuberculosis, asthma, bloodlessness, neurological and stomach problems.

Legal status

xAccording to law, Pachwai (Handia) is defined under section 2 (16) of Bihar and Orissa Excise Act 1915, as fermented rice, millets and other grain whether mixed with any liquid or not; any liquid obtained therefrom, whether diluted or undiluted; but does not include beer.

Under the provision of the Bihar and Orissa Excise Act 1915, one can sell and purchase Pachwai (Handia) within the limits of 7 kilograms or liters (undiluted) and 18 kilograms or liters (diluted). If one sells or purchases amounts beyond the limit, that will be treated as an excise offence and he/she will be accused under excise offence 47 (A) of B & O Excise Act 1915. In spite of this, many tribals and non-tribals are actively involved in this business throughout the district, whereas one license is provided for sell and purchase of Pachwai to a non-tribal person at Remuli.

In Keonjhar district, 34 cases have been filed against the offence during March ’01 to August ’01 out of which 80% cases were filed against a tribal.

Here the Handia sellers are getting privilege to sell of Handia up to 18 litters in a day, which helps them for their livelihood.

Now, consumption and preparation of Handia is not only limited among the tribes (Munda, Santala), but non-tribal people also undertaken this activity as a business. Our study shows that, different caste accepted this as a business purpose and they gain more profit than the tribals. In our study villages (Ramachandrapur, Bhanjatikra, Sandhiaposi and Barhatipra), all Munda people consume and prepare Handia but 25% of them make a expected profit and others prepare only for consumption and sell Handia to purchase oil, salt and intoxicated items (Tela luna ‘O’ dukuta)

Though Handia is originated from Munda and Santal and it is a most important part of their culture, but they are deprived to utilize it more profitably in their livelihood where as by utilizing same technique and procedure, the non-tribal make profit beyond expectation. From our observation, we assume that there are some reasons for which the munda people can not make profit in this business which are mentioned below :-

  1. Though Handia business is not adopted as primary occupation so they cannot concentrate fully in this business.
  2. There is no wider scope for marketing in the village area.
  3. Most of them are not interested to come to market area for regular sale because there are so many competitors in the market. 

Now the situation is so that, the concept of Handia business among other caste people is now increasing and munda people are going to purchase Handia from non-tribal people for consumption.

Case study of households preparing Ranu and selling it on the market

Gouri Munda

Gouri Munda, a 32 years old woman is the wife of Sukru Munda living in Sandhiapasi village. She has two sons and three daughters aged from 14 to 6 years who are reading in the Hindibhanga school which is 3 kms away from Sandhiapasi village. Sukru Munda is engaged as a mason in the local villages and also working in his own agricultural field. During summer season, he goes to outside for mason work. Gouri assists her husband in their agricultural field from mid-June to mid-November and in between she also works as wage labourer in the village. Apart from this period she is busy in homework because there is no other work around.

As the household rears goats (3 nos), ducks (big: 2 nos & small: 11 nos), bullocks (5 nos) and cow (2 nos) that help the household to earn money and Gouri is the only person to take care of these livestock.  In addition to this she prepare Handia and Ranu throughout the whole year.

Since 17 years Gouri has been preparing Handia in her in-laws house. When she was unmarried she did not know it but after that, her mother-in-law taught her the Handia preparation. At that time she purchased Ranu from others. But since 5 years, the idea of Ranu preparation came to her mind because of two reasons:
  1. By followings others as it is a profitable source of income.
  2. To minimise the expenditure of Handia preparation.

Handia consumption at home
Though all her children are going to school, they do not consume Handia at all. They (she and her husband) are the only persons who consume Handia at home. But since 2 years, her husband is restricted by Doctor to take Handia as he is suffering from tuberculosis. But during summer season, he takes Handia rarely. So she is the only member who consumes and prepares Handia. She prepares Handia mainly for consumption purpose. She uses 3 manas of rice for Handia preparation in a week for her own consumption daily (2 Gina, the measuring pot, of Handia which costs Rs 2/-only) and sells the remaining at her residence. By selling at residence she gets Rs 30-40/- in a week. When discussing with her about the expansion of Handia business, she remarked in the following way:-

  1. As most of the most households of Sandhiapasi and nearer villages were making Handia in their houses, as a result there was no sufficient customer for purchasing from her.
  2. Most of the customers purchased Handia on credit basis and did not pay regularly. So, it would be difficult for her part to run behind these customers for money collection.
  3. By selling in the market or door to door vending, she felt uncomfortable because by taking Handia to outside, one should take additional utensils i.e. bucket, danki, dhala and Chalani sieve for selling and it was not possible for her to take all these alone.
  4. She had already set physically and mentally with Ranu preparation.

Keeping all the above matter in view, she has been preparing Ranu since 5 years for business purpose.

Ranu Preparation
Gouri prepares Ranu twice in a week and each time takes minimum three days for preparation. In a week, she chooses two days i.e. Friday and Saturday for preparation, because for selling on Wednesday she can get sufficient time (5 days) for it. For making Ranu, she uses sundried rice, roots and barks. The roots and barks are Bhuinlimba (Burumarchi), Agnijhada, Jhinkiputa, Akalabindu (Pitu), Patalgarud and Bhuinkakharu (Bhuinboitalu). She purchases Akalabindu, Agnijhada, Patalgarud and Banalanka from market because these are available in the distant Hill and she is unable to collect these from the hill. For collecting Jhinkiputa and Bhuinlimba, she goes to Jangle (Forest) with other munda women, which is 2-3 kms from the village. Sometimes Bhuinlimba is not available in the jungle, so she has to go to other jungle near Manoharpur and Suakati with other women by bus. If necessary, they have to stay for 2-3 days there, for collection of Bhuinlimba. So, in that week, she cannot prepare Ranu.

Ranu Processing
At first, the roots and barks are dried up in the sun and then are grinded with sundried rice into power. For grinding purpose, she uses “Dhinki”or husking pedal block (an indigenous instrument for grinding these substances) and she takes 5 hours for grinding. Sometimes her husband assists her for this activity. The detailed activities and the time she spends for Ranu preparation is given below.

Days Activities Time
1st day (Thursday) Collection of roots and barks 8AM - 4PM
8 hours
2nd day (Friday)

Husking of Paddy to rice

5AM - 9AM

4 hours

Grinding of rice, roots and barks 10AM - 4PM 6 hours
Preparing Ranu and setting in straw bed 5PM - 9PM 4 hours
3rd day (Saturday) Same as 2nd day 5AM - 9PM 14 hours
4th & 5th days (Monday & Tuesday) Pick up the Ranu from straw bed and dry it in the sun
4 hours

Cost of Ranu Preparation
For one week, she prepares Ranu in two phases and in each phase, she invests 7 manas of sundried rice. The details cost for this is given below-

Days Particulars Quantity Market Value
Friday Rice 7 manas Rs 40/-
Roots and barks 1 bida Rs 10/-
Saturday Rice 7 manas Rs 40/-
Roots and barks 1 bida Rs 10/-
Total   14 manas & 2 bidas Rs 100/-


So, for one week she invests 14 manas of rice, which cost Rs 80/- and Rs 20/- for roots and barks. Sometimes she increases the quantity according to the order of the customers. From 14 manas of rice, she produces 25 manas of Ranu.

Marketing System
For marketing of Ranu, she has contacted four villages i.e, Balibandha, Hundula, Dehuripada and Kashipal and she goes once in a week i.e. Wednesday to these villages for sale. She goes by bus to Balibandha for which the bus fair is Rs 4/- and then she moves by foot to Hundula, Dehuripada and Kashipal, which are 4 kms, 3 kms and 3 kms from Balibandha respectively. She is vending Ranu among 11 households in Balibandha, all households (20 HHs) in Hundula, 4 HHs in Dehuripada and 3 HHs in Kashipal. All these 38 households belong to SC and ST (Kamar, Bhumija, Santal, Kolha, Bhuian and Ganda). Out of total Ranu, she sells a maximum amount in Hundula village because all the households prepare Handia and sell in Jurudi Hat near Joda on a regular basis and they all depend on her for purchasing Ranu. Most of the times more Ranu have been ordered from this village. According to her, during summer season, Raja and Makar festival, the demand of Ranu increases. Sometimes, she can not fulfill the target, as she is the only person to prepare Ranu at home.    

By selling 25 manas Ranu, she gets Rs 300/- in a week @ Rs 12/- per one mana Ranu, whereas others sell Ranu @ Rs 15/- per mana. By clarifying the above, she answered that, though all the contacted households are the permanent customers for her and she has been selling them in Rs 12/- from the beginning, so she could be liberal to them.

Regarding the sale of Ranu at “Hat”, she stated that, she could not sell Ranu at nearby market named as “Jhumpura Hat” because all the Ranu sellers had fixed their customers who are coming regularly to that Hat. If she goes to the Hat, then the regular sellers might not cooperate her to sale and no customers would purchase Ranu from her and it would also take more time to make the customers towards her.

Case study of households engaged in both Ranu and Handia preparation

Jema Munda

Jema Munda, the wife of Udaya Munda who is a 35-year-old woman residing in the village Bhanjatipra. She has six daughters (one of which is married) and three sons. The main occupation of the household is agriculture and she works in her own agricultural field and also works as agricultural worker in inside and outside the village. She also produces vegetables from her kitchen garden. She also collects sal seeds and mahua flowers from the forest.

Besides the above activities, Jema Munda prepares Handia to earn additional income for the household. She has been preparing Handia since six years, but at first she prepared Handia for consumption purpose of the family. At that time she purchased Ranu, the tablet from market or others. When she realised that other households are making profit by selling Handia, she decided to take off this as a business.

Handia Consumption at home
All the family members except the last two children who are two years and 6 months old are consuming Handia daily at home. Both husband and wife consume 16 Gina (steel cup) Handia in a day which cost Rs 16/- only @ Rs 1/- per Gina (1 Gina = 200 g approximately). Sometimes Udaya Munda takes 10 to 15 Gina Handia in a day. The elder 3 children (aged 19, 18 and 15 years) drink 15 Gina Handia (5 Gina per head) in a day whereas the small children (aged 9, 6 & 5 years) also take 6 Gina Handia. The last two small children (aged 2 yrs & 6 months and 6 months) are not allowed to take Handia. The family members take Handia twice (in morning after brushing the teeth and after coming from work) in a day. The total consumption of Handia in a day is Rs 37/- approximately.

Preparation of Ranu
Since four years she has been preparing Ranu and before that purchased Ranu from market or from other sources.  She prepares Ranu for own purpose and she does not sale these.  The only purpose of making Ranu in the house is that, it minimizes the expenditure of Handia preparation.

There is no certain date for making Ranu in a week or month. At a time she prepares some Ranu and finishing these, she prepares again.  For once, she uses 6 mana of sundried rice and Jhinkilai (Jhinkiputa) for making Ranu. She only uses Jhinkilai instead of other roots and barks and she collects Jhinkilai from the near hill. Before making Ranu, she goes to hill with other women to collect these from morning to evening and after finishing these, she goes again to collect.

Processing of Ranu
The first activity is grinding paddy to get sundried rice and for this, she uses "Dhinki" or husking pedal block (an indigenous instrument for grinding these substances). Then before grinding sundried rice, she takes bath and after that grinds sundried rice and Jhinkilai into power by "Dhinki” and keeps some power in a leaf separately in front of Pitrupurush (Ancestor God). After preparing Ranu and setting in the straw beds, she adds water with the separated rice power to make a dough. Then the dough is folded with a leaf and burnt by fire and shared by all members of the household. No out-sider is allowed to share with this. The detailed activities and the time she spends for Ranu preparation is given below.





1st day

Collection of Jhinkilai from the Hill

8AM to 4PM

8 hours

2nd day

Paddy husking to rice

3PM to 7PM

4 hours

3rd day

Grinding of sundried rice and Jhinkilai to power

7AM to 11AM

4 hours

Preparing Ranu and setting in straw beds 11AM to 3 PM 4 hours

6th day

Pick up the Ranu after drying up and then dried in the sun

8 AM to 10 AM

2 hours


For processing of Ranu, it takes 3 days. The most interesting thing is that, from grinding  sundried rice to preparing Ranu,  Jema Munda makes fasting. She is in faith that, by performing this ritual, she can produce better Ranu.

Cost of Ranu Preparation
For one time, she invests 6 mana sundried rice, which costs Rs 36/- and 150 g of Jhinkilai which she collects from hill. She produces 9 mana of Ranu from 6-mana rice. If she sells in the market, then she may earn Rs 135/- but she does not sell.

Handia Preparation
She prepares Handia daily and each time takes two and half days in processing. She  invests  6 kg of parboiled rice each time. She purchases these rice from the shop @ Rs 6.50/- per kg and she adds one Ranu in one mana rice. Firstly she boiled 6 kg of rice with water and after cooking, it leaves for cool. Then she adds 12 nos of Ranu into the cooked rice and leaves it for two and half days for processing. To extract Handia juice from the cooked mixture, she squeezes it in the mixture with water and uses a sieve (chaluni) for filtration.

In summer season, she prepares Handia daily and each time she uses 7 to 8 kg of para-boiled rice for preparing Handia.

In religious functions, she prepares special Handia (Bangadiang) for warship and the family members consume this Handia. The other members are not allowed to consume this Handia.

Marketing System
Jema Munda sells Handia in her own house. Sometimes she goes to nearby market for sale. Different castes people (Munda, other castes like milkman, Brahmin, Washer man and others) from Nusuripasi Barhatipra, nearby villages and other people who come across in front of her house, purchase Handia from her. She sells Handia on Gina (steel cup) basis and she gets Rs 1/- by selling 1 Gina Handia. In winter and Rainy season, she earns Rs 30/- to Rs 40/-, while she earns Rs 50/- to Rs 60/- in summer season. The reason is that, during rainy season, the weather is cold and Handia is not prepared well. The income is also less in winter season because in this season most of the families prepare Handia and they need not come here to purchase.

While asking her question about the sale of Handia in the market, she told that, as the customers are coming to her house, she does not need to go to market to sell Handia.

Impact of Handia on non-tribal people

In Dhenkikote area, some of non-tribal people undertake the Handia business by quitting their previous occupation. Here we are presenting a case study how a non-tribal household makes more profit by selling Handia at Dhenkikote area.

Gurucharan Mahakud

´belongs to Gopala/Gauda community and the traditional caste occupation of the community is to rearing cattle and selling milk. For last 36 years he is residing at Dhenkikote and at that time he was engaged in his little betel shop at Dhenkikote market. At that time he had undertaken furniture business to maintain his family of 4 members (wife and two sons).

The concept of Handia business as a profitable trade, came into his mind in 1998 by the inspiration of Bula Sahoo, a rice businessman at Dhenkikote market. In the beginning, he started to drink Handia by preparing it at home because his wife knew the preparation. At first he started this business with a small amount of rice and when he observed that the people came to the house to purchase Handia frequently from him then he increased the amount upto10kg rice in a week. According to the growing demand of the people, he increased the amount gradually up to 1-quintal rice at a time to strengthen the business.

Material needed for preparing Handia
For preparing Handia, para boiled rice and Ranu are needed. In the rainy season, he prepares 2 to two and half quintal rice (2 to 2 ˝ quintals) of rice in a week where as 3 to 4 quintal rice is needed in a week for winter and summer season. He purchases the 10 to 15 quintal rice at a time from Dhenkikote market and every time he has stock of 10-quintal rice at home.

For preparing Handia, he purchases Ranu from outside. One household from Dandipasi village provides Ranu to the household. He is purchasing Rs 500/- Ranu in a week depending on the preparation of Handia from the household of Dandipasi where 5 members in that household are engaged to prepare and supply Ranu. 

Preparation of Handia
Now Gurucharan and his wife, Madhabi prepare Handia thrice in a week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) and it takes three days for processing. In Wednesday of every week and every month he prepares excess Handia (1 quintal rice) to meet the need of people on Hata day, which is held on every Saturday at Dhenkikote. As two persons are not sufficient for Handia preparation, Satrughna Naik, a resident of Dhenkikote who knows the preparation, is appointed as a full time worker to help them. Satrughna takes Rs 25/- with one lunch and Handia consumption (10 bela = Rs 20/-). They cook 80 kg to 1 quintal parboiled rice at a time in 4 nos of silver dekichi (big cooking pot in which 20 kg rice can be cooked). They use table fan to cool the boiled rice, then 160 to 200 nos of Ranu are mixed with it and they keep the substance for three days in dekichi to process. He uses two rooms for preparing Handia one is store room and another is kitchen with processing room.

Household consumption
In this household Gurucharan only consumes Handia of 10 bela (Rs 20/-) in a day and Madhabi takes Handia rarely. It is very interesting that the domestic animals of the household also consume Handia. The cows (3 nos) consume 12 bela Handia (Rs 24/-) whereas the goats (4 nos)  take 3 bela Handia (Rs 6/-). Gurucharan told that without giving Handia to his calf, he does not sell Handia to anybody. He again told that the animals are so used to Handia that, if  they do not drink it, they make disturbances by destroying the Handia pots.

For marketing Handia he/she does not go to outside. All caste people from nearby villages are coming to his house to drink Handia. In Hata day (Saturday), the number of the customers are so excess that, the three persons cannot sell properly. In order to smooth selling, he has appointed 2 persons Ghasiram Mahakud and Narayan Naik to sale Handia. Each of them earns Rs 25/- with lunch and Handia consumption. Everyday 150 to 200 people are coming here to drink Handia but in every Saturday, the number of people increases to near about 500. For smooth distribution of Handia to 50 persons at a time, the household has purchased 50 belas. To make the business more attractive, Gurucharan also prepares gram item and serve them for Rs 1/- only. Sometimes, contractors take a huge amount of Handia of Rs 200/- to Rs 300/- at a time to give their workers. During marriage time, some mundas also take Handia to distribute their neighbourers and relatives. Gurucharan maintains the accounts of Handia selling.

Cost Benefit of Handia preparation

Expenditure for one week

Sl No





Parboiled rice

2 quintal or 200 kg

Rs 1200/-



400 nos

Rs 50/-


Fire wood

Rs 50/- * 7 days

Rs 135/-


Labour charge (1 no)

Rs 25/- *  7 days

Rs 175/-


Marketing cost (for two persons)

Rs 25/- * 2 (persons)

Rs 50/-



5 kg per day @ Rs 22/- per kg

Rs 770/-



Rs 2380/-


The above expenditure is only for winter season. Though the demand of Handia increases in summer season, the cost of Handia preparation is minimum Rs 3005/- only (for three quintals of rice).

Income per week

Sales per day (6 days a week) @ Rs 500/- * 6 Rs 3000
Sales on Hat day (Saturday)   Rs 3000
Total   Rs 6000
Total income   Rs 6000
Total expenditure   Rs 2380
Total profit per week   Rs 3620
Total monthly profit Rs 3620/- * 4 Rs 14.480


Savings of the Household from Handia Business

Out of the income from Handia business, Gurucharan saves Rs 30,000/- in LAMPS at Dhenkikote and Rs 50,000/- in Baitarani Gramya Bank at Barhatipra. He also deposited Rs 300/- in LIC for three years in the name of his wife. In addition to the above deposit, he has constructed 11 rooms upto roof level for which he has already spent more than 3 lakhs rupees.

Perception of other people towards the household

In Dhenkikote area, 12 non-tribe households are doing Handia business since 15 years and as Gurucharan has developed a lot during three years, so they are jealous to him. Regarding this, he said that the neighbourers do not tolerate his progress, so they do not come to his house. As he is making Handia business like a Munda, he has not good relation with his relatives and neighbourers. Nobody likes to come to his house.