Delicious History Of Mango
Guess what, our beloved Mango, the golden sweet delight has done it all.
History has many interesting tales about Mangoes.
Let's start with the name Mango itself. The scientific name for Mango is 'Mangifera Indica' which means 'an Indian plant bearing Mangoes'.
The English word 'Mango' originated from the Malayalam word māṅṅa (or mangga) via Dravidian-Tamil (mankay as man for Mango tree and kay for fruit, or maangaay) during the spice trade period.
We can find mention of Mango in old Sanskrit literature too. It was known as 'Aamra-phal'. In early Vedic literature Mango was called as 'Rasala' and 'Sahakara' and is written about in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Even in present day India, it is called by different names in different languages. 'Aamba' in Marathi, 'Aam' in Hindi, 'Māmpaḻam' in Tamil and Malayalam etc.
If we decide to find the genesis of present day Mango, we would have to go back several million years.
Study of scientific fossil suggests that the Mango made its first appearance more than 25 to 30 million years ago in North – east India, Myanmar and Bangladesh from where it travelled down to Southern part of India.
Mangoes were initially found in the forests near the foot hills of Himalayas during ancient times.
However, they were in their wild form. People started cultivating them around 2000 BC.
Mangoes soon started spreading over to other regions of the world. Chinese traveller Hwen T‟sang took Mango back to China from India.
Spaniards took Mango to their colonies in South America and Mexico.
Portuguese who arrived in India were mesmerised by Mango and its sweet, rich taste. However, they found the Indian Mangoes fibrous and not fit for European table.
That's when they started experimenting and grafting. There were many other varieties that were developed along with Alphonso through grafting but only Alphonso has survived and
loved by all of us even today, specially the Alphonso grown in Ratnagiri.
Alphonso is named after Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese general and military expert who helped establish Portuguese colonies in India. Alphonso mango is now known locally as 'Hapus' or 'Hafoos'. In fact, Alphonso has been given the sobriquet of 'King of Mangoes'.
Afonso de Albuquerque | Image credit : Wikipedia commons
Portuguese took Mango back to Europe and their colonies in Africa and Brazil.
Mangoes never significantly influenced British political or economic activities.
Hence, the fruit might not have the same political value back then. Yet in 1953, Alphonso Mangoes were exported to Britain for the coronation ceremony of the Queen for the first time.
Mango has massive religious importance in India. The classic Hindu epic Ramayan has references to Mango Plantations.
Mango finds its presence in Buddhist literature for its religious importance. It is believed that Lord Buddha meditated under a Mango tree and hence considered sacred.
Mango tree has religious importance among Jainism too as Jain goddess Ambika is traditionally represented as sitting under a Mango tree.
Even to this today, Mango leaves (called as 'aambycha taala' in Marathi) are considered as pious and auspicious and they adorn the main door of the houses during festivals and ceremonies.
Mango found patronage among Indian rulers too. During the times of Maurya Empire, Mango trees were thought of as symbol of knowledge and prosperity.
Mango was used as a gift by royal families to enhance the political ties.
It is said that Alexander the Great took Mangoes with him when he returned from India after his war with King Porus.
In medieval era, Babur got ready to establish his empire only after tasting a delicious Mango grown in the soils of India.
Love for Mango passed on from one generation to another in Mughal dynasty till the last Mughal emperor. Mughals are credited with grafting of a variety of mangoes like Chausa, Ratul, Kesar, Totapuri etc. Mirza Ghalib found his friend, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal, thanks to Mangoes.
It is said that Shah Jahan was such a huge Mango aficionado that he had his own son Aurangzeb punished and house arrested because he had dared to have all the Mangoes himself! Now that's what we call a true Mango lover!
During the same period, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had also ordered for millions of Mango trees to be planted considering its environmental effectiveness.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj | Image credit : Wikipedia commons
However, it wasn't just the rulers who were cast a spell on by the Mangoes. Eminent poets were equally besotted by the flavoursome, juicy Mangoes.
The famous Sanskrit poet Kalidas has sung many praises of Mango. Legendary Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib was known to be fond of Mangoes.
Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore was also a Mango lover. His famous poem 'Aamer manjori' (my Mango flower)is a testament to that.
Looking at Mango’s journey through the pages of history, it feels like Mango is not just a fruit, it is a legend of India. It is rightly called the national fruit of our country.
So, the next time you pick up a Mango to eat, just think how lucky you are to eat this royal fruit that has ruled millions of hearts for millions of years.
Mango indeed is "King of Fruits, Fruit for the King"...
Now if you can't resist getting your hands on this heavenly fruit, order your box of juicy, premium, naturally ripened Ratnagiri Alphonso mangoes online now at Mangoes4U.
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