Name one fruit that is available in all seasons? I’ll give you a few hints. It's high on calories, and potassium, and the raw and ripe forms are versatile in how they can be consumed. Called the poor man’s food because of its nutritive value, this fruit is a delightful addition to your morning breakfast. You probably have enough clues already. It’s Banana! Today, we get different sizes, colors, and flavors of bananas.
Native to tropical South and South East Asia, did you know that bananas were first domesticated in Papua New Guinea? It is now grown in 107 countries mostly for their fruit and occasionally for their fiber and ornamental value.
One of the most nourishing fruits, the banana has been providing nutrition in the tropics since ancient times. As a result, many different cultures have tales about their origins and uses.
Banana is used in every Hindu festival as it is considered a symbol of prosperity. Almost every part has some use or the other. No auspicious ceremony can ever be complete without the presence of banana leaves. Be it a wedding, death ceremony, or a child’s birth, young banana leaves are present symbolizing growth, opulence, and regeneration. It is an ordinary feature to use banana leaves as a plate at a religious ceremony. Every Hindu wedding in South India has tall pandals made with the banana stalk and leaves. As bananas don’t need to be pollinated and fertilize themselves, it is believed that it is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati. In the Western Ghats, the Banana tree is believed to be the Goddess Nanda Devi. In the month of Kartika, her images are generally carved out of the stalk, and it is made to float down the river. In the Mahabharata, Kadalivana or the Banana garden on the banks of Kuberapushkarni is the home of the monkey god, Hanuman.
The female banana plant is thought of as being married to Lord Ganesha. The male banana plant, which doesn’t bear fruit, was used to marry off girls whose horoscopes were defective. It was believed that it was okay for the girl to marry after the plant dies.
There is a short tale to support this fact. A tribal legend portrays the five dancing sisters, Mango, Tamarind, Plantain (banana), Fig, and Black Plum. They went from village to village looking for a husband until they met the God Mahaprabhu who asked them what their wishes were. Each of the sisters asked for a husband and many children except Plantain. Plantain didn’t want a husband, but she wanted children. Their wishes were granted. The other sisters married and had many children, so many that their husbands ran away. To save them, Mahaprabhu turned them into trees, and their branches became the children. Men who climbed the trees were considered their husbands. Plantain was also turned into a tree but still refused a husband as men keep the tree young with their love. Plantain has only a few children and matures only once a year.
Dr. Vandana K.