A beedi also spelled bidi or biri is a thin, Indian cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a tendu or possibly even Piliostigma racemosum leaf tied with a string at one end. The name is derived from the Marwari word beeda—a leaf wrapped in betel nuts, herbs, and condiments.
Indian tobacco cultivation began in the late 17th century,and beedies were first created in Gujarat when tobacco workers took left-over tobacco and rolled it in leaves.Initially the leaf used was kachnar. In 1899, during the Gujarat famine, brothers Mohanlal Hargovindas Patel migrated to Jabalpur region as railway contractors. They discovered that the local tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) leaves are ideal for wrapping the tobacco and founded the beedi rolling factories locally. The first trademark was registered by Haribhai Desai of Bombay (using kachnar leaves) 1901, and Mohanlal and Hargovindas obtained their trademark in 1902 for tendu-rolled beedi.
These tobacco-filled leaves deliver more nicotine,carbon monoxide,and tar and carry a greater risk of oral cancers. As with many other types of smoking, beedis increase the risk of certain kinds of cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.
Over 3 million Indians are employed in the manufacture of beedies,a cottage industry that is typically done by women in their homes.