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Halva: What is the Origin of this Word?

Submitted by on February 22, 2009 – 5:38 pm One Comment

My wife asked me that day:” What is the origin of the word ‘Halva’ (हल्वा)? I said it is a Hindi word. She came across her one of the East European colleagues savoring a dish which he so proudly declared as Halva. When my wife confronted her what was that halva all about, he sheepishly admitted- even though he continued to munch the delicacy- that he did not know the details, but halva was not something new to him. And obviously he had not purchased it from an Indian grocery store. The halva that East European guy was eating looked and tasted same as we know in our Indian culture.

So when my wife threw the question at me , I was not prepared to think that halva could be anything but Indian or Hindi. Thanks to the internet technology, I passed the question on to Google and pat came the reply: Halva is a derived from Arabic word “alāwa” which means sweet!

I continued in a my ‘professorial style’ to Bharti and added that a language must be flexible to absorb words from other languages in order to grow and prosper. Thus call it the flexibility of Hindi that it has enriched herself by including words from other cultures and languages. Now does not it sound interesting that Halva- poori or puri (पुरी) is a common hybrid word or phrase used in Hindi. Poori is a purely Hindi word, by the way! The mesage is: Combine and thrive! BY the way, I remember during our hostel days in medical college in India, halva used to be a common agenda when the mess /cafeteria was closed. I remember, my friends Golu and Vinay were pretty skillful on that item!
Between us!

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