Mahua

(Bassia latifolia) An Indian tree, known also as Butter Tree (Coon). When the flowers fall to the ground in April and May, they are eaten by the indigenous people. In anticipation, they may burn the ground under the trees, to make it easier to pick them up. Some they eat fresh, others they dry, boil and ferment, and, so it seems, now distil in a simple still consisting of two pots and a bamboo tube. The Gonds, or Konds, also distil a very strong liquor, "something resembling Irish whisky" (Chopra, Badhwar & Ghosh) from the flowers, a drink important enough to figure in their mythology (Furer-Haimendorff). But the tree has an importance for them unrelated to the drink, for this is the Kor tree, by the side of which funerary rites are performed. It is the tree of the dead, and as such the rites there are the final ones in mortuary ceremonies (Furer-Haimendorff). The Gonds hung the dead bodies of their relatives on a branch of this tree before burying them (Upadhyaya).

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