It's summer time and a plethora of beverages has exploded into the market and on the television screen. Celebrities endorsing various soft drinks make regular appearance on the small screen. But here's something you haven't seen publicised anywhere. ‘Neera' or ‘padhaneer', a natural drink, packaged in 200 ml sachets is being sold at stalls across the city and at outlets of Khadi Bhavan and Khadi Kraft.
The drink has a steady following. The city consumes around 1,400 litres or 6,000 sachets a day. “I drink it for the health benefits that padhaneer offers. It contains riboflavin, protein, iron, thiamine and phosphorus. As a child, I would drink padhaneer straight out of the pot after it was tapped from the palm tree,” said T. Kalathiappan, a senior citizen.
Sourced from primary cooperative society members in Kadapakkam, Mudaliarkuppam, Gangadevankuppam, Mugaiyur, Kathivakkam and Paniayur, padhaneer is collected in pots coated with lime. “If lime is not applied, it turns into toddy. The addition of lime makes all the difference and turns padhaneer into a healthy, non-alcoholic drink,” said a person associated with its packaging.
P. Aravind, an Ayurveda practitioner said padhaneer is a natural coolant rich in calcium. “We prescribe it to reduce body heat and for recovery from skin burns. It also acts as a laxative. Padhaneer is best had on an empty stomach, when the body can absorb it better,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu Palm Products Development Board sells the drink in two forms — a 200 ml sachet priced at Rs. 8 that must be consumed in three days and another packet priced at Rs.15 per 200 ml but with a shelf life of three months.
In 2011- 12, a total of 2.80 lakh litres of neera was procured, packed and sold throughout the State for Rs. 61.18 lakh.