How This Kerala Kozhikode Halwa Street Became A Bonafide Cultural Hotspot

How This Kerala Kozhikode Halwa Street Became A Bonafide Cultural Hotspot
(L) Pinterest ; The Hindu (R)

Tales of unrequited love often begin and end with one’s city; The surroundings that made you feel like you belong, the buildings that towered over your daily walks, the stray animals you lent pats of love to, and of course, the streets that guided you.

Certain streets of cities assert special importance and allow for their tales to be told even years later. In Kozhikode, SM Street does the same. Mittai Theruvu or Sweet Meat Street is a Kozhikodan gem. A collective of its heritage, influences, and people, the street is one that each native fondly remembers, and if you’re on the lookout to understand Kozhikode deeply, a visit here is a must.

‘Sweet Meat’, the street’s name comes from a rather amusing tale — Kozhikodan halwa was widely sold here. This dessert differs from the dominant version of halwa that exists in India. Here, the dish is made from flour and jaggery which is cooked in coconut oil, and later set in a consistency that can hold itself. It is also stained with edible colours and at the time, red was the most widely used one. As it mimicked the appearance of meat, people began referring to it as ‘sweet meat’ and the street came to be known as Sweet Meat Street, often shortened to SM Street.

Image Courtesy: Aanavandi

In his book Oru Theruvinte Katha, author SK Pottekkatt puts SM Street centre stage. With the narrow, dessert-ladled street as the protagonist, he lays down his love and adoration throughout this book. The piece of literature does not feature the street as a location or a backdrop, but rather a character with personality, identity, and hold over the city of the Kozhikode of the 1960s. Now, there even exists a statue of SK Pottekkatt at the beginning of the street.

Popular folklore states that the street came to be one that features several sweet shops because of the presence of a river nearby. It is where people would come to pay respects to loved one who passed away, and as an offering to God, they would offer bali, a rice preparation. Usually, as they returned, they would stop to pick up sweets, which led to people realising the need for sweet shops, ultimately resulting in many of them being set up and forming the famous street.

Over the years, SM Street has reached a stage where it does not just sell sweets. Through the course of the fight for independence, it saw several protests and marches up to the Huzur’s Cutchery (literally translating to the ‘ruler’s office’). It also sees influence from different communities such as the Gujaratis who settled here as traders and also Parsis who came to the city for business. However, Kozhikode’s Parsi inhabitants and influence have reduced over time.

Image Courtesy: Viewbug

SM Street began as a spot to purchase Kozhikode’s famous halwa from. With such humble beginnings, not many would have guessed that it would result in the formation of a cultural hotspot which would later come to be the source of tales of history and heritage. SM Street does not stand alone in this and is accompanied by many such streets and locations across India, but to Kozhikode and its people, this is the one that matters most.

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