Tirur Vettila (Tirur betal leaves)

Tirur betal leaves are well known betal leaf variety which is grown in Tirur and adjacent areas of Malappuram district in Kerala. Betal leaf, Vettila in Malayalam language is a most popular after meals treat in Indian subcontinent. It is a main ingredient in pan and Kerala people chew a mixture of betal, tobacco, lime stone paste and arecanut pieces.

Tirur betal leaf has medicinal characteristics and contains huge content of chlorophyll and protein. Tirur betal leaf has high antioxidant proportions which might use in cancer treatment in future. Tirur betal leaf has unusual biochemical characteristics like aroma and flavour and more pungent than other cultivars of betal leaves.

Areas of cultivation

Tirur vettila is cultivated across Tirur and Tanur municipalities, Kalpakanchery, Athavanadu, Thalakkad, Valavannur, Cheriyamundam, Ponmundam, Ozhur, Thanalur and Niramaruthur panchayaths. Betal cultivation began in the end of nineteenth century and its business flourished in Tirur and neighboring areas.  Tirur was connected with other parts of India after the first railway station was constructed at Tirur in 1961. New railway connectivity accelerated betal leaf trade which popularised among India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Betal leaf trade in Tirur

Vettathunadu, an erstwhile kingdom of Kerala in which Tirur was part of it, stood out in the contemporary kingdoms in the areas of culture, language, trade and international relations. Vettathunadu maintained a peaceful relations with Zamorion dynasty of Kozhikode, Kochi King and Portugese which enabled them focus on trade and prosperity of the country. Tirur became a hub of business and trade and gradually, an area called “Pan Bazar” evolved due to the growth of betal leaf export. It is noteworthy that Pakistan was a popular destination of Tirur betal leaves. Trade relations with Pakistan countinued until severe diplomatic crisis occurred during Kargil War 1999. Again in 2020 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan suspended bilateral trade relations with India after the repercussion over the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution which gives special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir. It was a  throwback to betel leaf industry which is already suffering  from disruptions.

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