Chennai, November 12: The Authoor Vattara Vetrilai Viyabarigal Sangam has filed a formal application seeking Geographical Indication or GI Tag for Authoor Vetrilai, the famous betel leaf from Authoor. It has been claimed that the betel leaf has some unique features like the flavour and aroma because of "geographical features, traditional cultural practices, specific genotypes, special soil characters and peculiar climatic features of the area of production." NABARD's Madurai Agribusiness Incubation Forum has supported the initiative. The Sangam submitted the proof of origin of Authoor betel leaves, along with some historical records of usage of the leaves extensively by the people in the Authoor village and nearby places.
According to a book published by the Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu, in 1977, 'Varalatril Vetrilai', 'there was a 25-year-old inscription of Maravarman Vikrama Chola Pandian in the Authoor Somanathaswamy temple, Thiruchendur taluk, Tirunelveli district where it stated that betel leaves are also included in the food provided to 15 shiva brahmanas on each no moon day given by Mangalakaludaiyar Ayyanar,' the Sangam told the New Indian Express. Kashmiri Saffron From Jammu and Kashmir Gets Geographical Indication (GI) Tag.
It also claimed that the betel leaves were popular since the time of Marco Polo. In his book, 'The travels of Marco Polo (The Venetian)', he mentioned the use of betel leaves by people in the city of Kael. "The distance between Authoor village and Kael is 10 km. Hence the people of Kael must have been using betel leaves cultivated in Authoor," added the Sangam. Alphonso Mango From Maharashtra Joins the List of 325 Products From India to Carry Geographical Indication (GI) Tag.
The Authoor betel leaves are considered auspicious in the Tamil Nadu cultuand is widely used in various occasions including wedding ceremonies, baby showers, housewarming functions among others. In Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, Authoor and several nearby places are famous for betel vine cultivation. It is the main source of livelihood of most of the residents of the district.