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The paan is closely connected to the Banarasi way of life. Paan symbolises the Banarasi's addiction to the good things of life like none of the rest do. And this addiction, an outsider will say, is virtually over nothing. There's a betel leaf, supari (arecanut), katha (catechu), chuna (lime), gulkand (rose jam), honey-flavoured elaichi (cardamom), and for those who want it ? tobacco. Eating a paan, folding it with spices and condiments and sharing it with a friend, is a gesture of hospitality. Visiting the roadside paanwalla to buy a paan and eating it leisurely, is a way of life. It is a habit that has been cultivated all over India. But in Banaras, paan is a habit with a deep social significance.

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photo: Sephi Bergerson
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Street Food of India
The paan is closely connected to the Banarasi way of life. Paan symbolises the Banarasi's addiction to the good things of life like none of the rest do. And this addiction, an outsider will say, is virtually over nothing. There's a betel leaf, supari (arecanut), katha (catechu), chuna (lime), gulkand (rose jam), honey-flavoured elaichi (cardamom), and for those who want it ? tobacco. Eating a paan, folding it with spices and condiments and sharing it with a friend, is a gesture of hospitality. Visiting the roadside paanwalla to buy a paan and eating it leisurely, is a way of life. It is a habit that has been cultivated all over India. But in Banaras, paan is a habit with a deep social significance.