Prabuddha Neogi ● Asansol: Gur, or jaggery according to the English dictionary, is a winter delicacy in India. While in the rest of the country it is usually made from sugarcane, in Bengal, it is made from the juice extracted from khejur gachh (date palm trees). Rampant urbanisation has led to a gradual decline in the number of trees over the years. Pest attacks are also common. Termites, especially, have caused much damage. With no reforestation activity, the art of making patali, the cake form of gur, may soon become extinct, and another Bengal heritage will be lost.
Earthen pots tied to the trees to collect the date palm juice are brought down at around 3.30 in the morning. What follows, is a delicate process of converting the juice to jhola gur and then patali. Those involved in the making do it with almost arithmetic precision. WPC decided to check out first-hand.