The sweet, age-old tradition of making jaggery in Goa
As you approach the location where it is made, the strong aroma of boiling sugarcane juice will entice you. From a distance, you can easily spot the thatch-roof shed which houses the unit where the jaggery is painstakingly prepared. The process of making sugarcane jaggery is an interesting one. A massive furnace is dug into the ground.
Next, about 400 to 500 liters of juice are poured into a large pan. The fire underneath the pan is then fed with dried sugarcane bagasse and other firewood. On the top, is the boiling sugarcane juice, which is extracted, cleaned and filtered. The men stir the liquid skillfully and rhythmically ensuring that it does not get lumpy or burnt. After hours of continuously stirring the thickened juice, it is free of impurities. It is then poured into another dry pan placed on the mud floor.
Two to four men carefully tilt the hot pan and its contents, without spilling even a drop of the juice. It is fascinating to watch the entire process. In the next hour, they stir the thick liquid, during which you find men holding large flat ladles that resemble the oars of a boat. This continues till the thick liquid begins to take on a grainy consistency.
It is quite interesting to see how the process is expertly done with so much care. Sadly, with the arrival of modern technology, the number of craftsmen who are skilled in this traditional activity are dwindling and so is the number of people who can do this work. While technology makes things convenient and easy, the traditional way is a sustainable one, where nothing goes waste, nor is any waste generated.