Betel leaves, and areca nut (Vettrilai & paaku) are the symbols of auspiciousness in the Hindu culture. They are exchanged symbolically while a marriage is fixed, given to “sumangali”(a married woman with her spouse still alive) during various festivities or a home visit and more.
But the consumption of these two along with calcium hydroxide (chunnambu or slaked lime) is consumed as a mouth freshener post meal, sometimes with tobacco. The chewing of this package over a long time gives a buzz in mouth and coats the tongue red in colour. This consumption on a longer period gives way to Oral cancer, which is on a high in South Asia incl. India.
Seen here is the neatly stacked pile of Betel leaves at the neighbourhood store near a temple.