Hookahs from Haryana: 'Panchon ka Pyaala'

By Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Hookah is a smoking pipe used by the people of Haryana. According to them, hookah is their pride and holds supreme importance in Haryanvi culture. Hookah in Haryana can be classified as hookah, hookhi, hookti or kali. This exhibit is an attempt to share the stories and crafting of hookah in Haryana.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

“Panchon ka pyaala”
The phrase implies that a minimum of four to five people would sit for smoking a hookah and discuss about the on-goings in the village and the community.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

"Hookah bhaichaare ka prateek hai"

People in Haryana believe that hookah is a symbol of brotherhood. The quote literally translates to "A hookah in Haryana holds the value of brotherhood." After preparing it with tobacco and coal, it is offered to the eldest to smoke in the first place as a sign of respect.

Men sitting in chaupalDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Men are commonly found smoking hookah, during the daytime, at various social gathering places across the state.

Cultutal regions of HaryanaDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The state of Haryana comprises of five cultural regions. They are: Ahirwal, Bagad, Mewat, Khadar and Nardak.

Map of Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The map indicates different types of hookah documented across the state during the field visits.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

What is a Hookah?

Hookah is a smoking pipe which is used to smoke tobacco, it consists of a long narrow pipe that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl. It consists of various parts which are assembled together to form one hookah.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

A hookah is made of different components. They are- Chillum, Tanki or Gatta, Necha, Kulfi, Neh or Naad, Gajj and Chakri

Chillum is placed on top of hookah. It contains tobacco and coal inside; It is generally made out of terracotta, wood or metal with mud lining from inside.

The bottom part of hookah in which water is filled is called tanki. It is made out of metal, wood or terracotta. The water inside tanki is replaced at regular intervals to ensure the taste of hookah remains unaffected.

Two wooden pipes, reinforced together using metal wires, directly connected to the tanki are called necha. The necha has cloth wrapped onto it for chillum to sit tightly on it.

Kulfi is fixed to the top of other necha. It is generally a bent piece, made out of wood or metal.

The other end of kulfi is attached to neh which is used to draw the filtered smoke while consuming hookah.

The necha and neh are further reinforced using thin rods which are called gajj, It can be made out of either wood or metal.

Craftsperson making a hookahDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Each part of the hookah is made separately with precision.

Craftsperson making a hookahDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Rohida (tecomella) wood for its high moisture content is considered to be the best for construction of hookah by the craftspeople at Badhra village in Charkhi Dadri district.

Hookah on display in a shopDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Parts are then assembled and supplied to the market for selling purposes.

Tobacco leavesDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Tambaccu

The tobacco used in the chillum is locally known as tambaccu. It contains pounded mixture of dried tobacco leaves and lada (molten jaggery). 

Lada preparationDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The lada is prepared by heating jaggery in an open karahi for several hours till it gets melted.

Ukhal musal (Mortar & Pestle)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

It is then mixed and pounded in a mortar and pestle. The mixture of tobacco and lada is made with a uniform proportion of 1:1. Around 20 gms of mixture is generally required per chillum.

Ukhal musal (Mortar & Pestle)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

There is a separate ukhal musal (mortar & pestle) in every house which is only used to pound the tobacco mixture.

Mixture of tobacco and jaggeryDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Meetha hookah and Kauda hookah

In an otherwise 1:1 proportion, if the mixture contains more lada, it is sweetened and is called meetha hookah; if the mixture contains more tobacco, it becomes bitter in flavour and is called kauda hookah.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Preparation of a hookah

A hookah is prepared by lighting the chillum. The tobacco mixture is put on a piece of cloth in the chillum and covered with a small plate. Burnt coal pieces or dried cakes are added onto the plate to light the tobacco mixture.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The tongs are used to prepare the hookah. It is generally placed upon the gajj of the hookah. Also, the youngest person in a group prepares the hookah for everyone.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Temperature and flavour of hookah

Upon prolonged usage, the rise in the internal temperature of the hookah does affect the flavour of it. Therefore, parts of hookah are draped with moist cloth pieces sometimes to restrict this rise in temperature.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

In a residence at Balali village in Charkhi Dadri district, three variations among hookah were documented. The biggest one was called hookah, the medium sized smoking pipe was called hookti and the smallest one was called kali.

Hookah (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

“Hariane ki shaan”

Hookah is believed to be the pride of Haryana. People generally spend thousands of rupees to customise the design based on their aesthetic sensibilities. This particular hookah was constructed entirely out of rohida (tecomella) wood with metal embellishments, it was made by the craftspeople from Mahendragarh district. Mustard oil is applied on the entire hookah as a part of regular maintenance every fortnight.

Hookhi (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Hookhi, Hookti or Kali

Smoking hookah typically has a gendered connotation attached to it.A smoking pipe smaller in size is known as hookhi. It is smoked by elderly women in Haryana. This hookhi was smoked by the woman twice a day after every meal while sitting on patadi (floor seat).

Hookhi (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The women of a family or a neighbourhood form their own groups to smoke hookhi.

Hookhi (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

Women would generally smoke meethi hookhi, wherein they would add more lada into the tobacco mixture.

Hookhi (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

It is believed that smoking hookah relieves one from digestive ailments, if consumed in a limited quantity. This hookhi, made from sheesham wood around twenty-five years ago, was smoked by the woman as a medicinal remedy.

Hookhi (Smoking pipe)Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, CEPT University

The daughter-in-laws don’t smoke hookhi with elderly ladies of the house. It is only after they reach a certain age (around 30 years), they are considered to sit and smoke with them.

Credits: Story

The research on this story was conducted as part of the Vernacular Furniture of North-West India project, a collaborative research project conducted between 2015 - 2021 by the Design Innovation and Craft Research Centre (DICRC), CEPT University, Ahmedabad, and the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection Trust (SADACC), Norwich, UK.

Disclaimer - Smoking hookah is not advocated by the individuals or organisations involved in this research. The intention is to present the stories and the crafts that form an important aspect of everyday life of the people in Haryana.

The research on the vernacular furniture of Haryana is presented in the publication- Catalogue of Vernacular Furniture: Haryana. co-authored by Mansi S Rao, Rishav Jain, Ben Cartwright and Radha Devpura.

This story has been compiled by Daksh Dev.

For more information on the Vernacular Furniture of India, please visit: www.vernacularfurnitureofindia.com

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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