India has a long history of worshiping trees, plants and for the ancient Aryans nature was revered. Many trees like Ashoka, Peepal, Banyan Tree, Bael tree, Neem and Sandalwood tree, Bamboo, banana, coconut and most of all Mango trees are some of the most significant ones. Mostly all these trees have medicinal properties as well as socio-religious significance. All of them are large shady trees and perennials.
Hot summer day. A rope swing on the strong branch of a lush green mango tree, intoxicating fragrance of the mango flowers and the delicious fruit makes the Mango tree is one of the most loved trees in India.
Smooth luscious, velvety and juicy that’s a mango, the king of all fruits as far as India is concerned. This tropical fruit lives up to its name. The mango tree is thick and shady therefore excellent for planting in avenues parks etc. Everything from this tree is used in one form or the other.It has a religious importance as well as medicinal one. Mango is our National fruit and rightly so for it has a whole culture of mango eating associated with it.
In north India the land owners who harvested mangoes took pride in their crop.Mango festivals and mango eating sessions and contests were held all through the summers. Big drums of water were filled and ripe mangoes were soaked in them to cool. The families gathered and amidst fun and laughter sucked the mango pulp and juice directly from the fruit by rubbing the ripe mangos with hands loosening the flesh. The dripping juices the sweet taste and the intoxicating aroma were all part of the ritual. It is still fun to eat mango like that instead of cutting and eating it with fork or spoon. They were the connoisseurs of the fruits. Baskets of the best ripe mangoes were exchanged as gifts.
The mango has been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years and is an important part of the Indian heritage and culture. It is almost an object of veneration in Hindu households. It is also considered a symbol of love and fertility.
During the long hot summers mangoes are relished all over India especially in the North. We have hundreds of varieties with exquisite flavors, exotic names and unmatched deliciousness. There is dashahree, langra, tota pari, safeda, alfanso and neelam all known for there distinct flavor, shape and color.
In the Hindu religion, mango tree has a lot of importance. To the Hindus, it is a symbol of the Lord of all creatures. The twigs are used as toothbrushes and the leaves as spoons for the pouring of libations. The rooms in which marriage ceremonies are held are festooned with Mango leaves. It is considered auspicious.
The wood is also considered as sacred because it is included in funeral pyres. Hindus also dedicate the flowers of the tree to the Moon on the second day of the month of Maagh.
The flowering and the fruit-bearing species symbolizes reproduction as they don’t stop growing.
Other uses of the tree
Apart from the delicacy of the fruit, the tree has some other valuable properties as well. The timber of this tree is kiln-dried or seasoned in saltwater. It is quite soft and durable and thus very good for planking and making packing cases and tea boxes. It is gray or greenish-brown, coarse-textured, hard, easy to work and finishes well. In India, it is used for raft making, window frames, agricultural implements, for boats and boxes, including for making crates for shipping. The wood makes excellent charcoal.
The bark possesses 16% to 20% tannin and is used for tanning hides. It yields a yellow dye or when mixed with turmeric and lime, a bright rose-pink. The bark produces a somewhat resinous, red-brown gum that is used in medicine.
Dried mango flowers, contain 15% tannin and serve as astringents in cases of diarrhea, chronic dysentery and many other ailments. The resinous gum from the trunk is applied on cracks in the skin of the feet. Various parts of the tree are used to stop bleeding and prescribed in cases of snakebite and scorpion-sting as well. The immature fruit is used to treat certain eye ailments and some people believe that a tonic prepared from the ripe fruit can be proved good for the liver.
Mango kernel concoction and powder are used as astringents in hemorrhages and bleeding hemorrhoids. A combined concoction of mango and other leaves is taken after childbirth.
It is a rich source of vitamin A C D and has only 70 calories per 100 grams, despite its powerful sweet taste. Mango also contains beta carotene, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, a lot of vitamin C, and some traces of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, lot of antioxidants.
Both raw and ripe mango is used in various food preparations as appetizers, fruit smoothies, deserts, salads, jams squashes and also used in main dishes . Raw fruits are used for making chutney, pickles and juices. Sun dried raw mango slices are powdered and used in Indian cooking.
Source: Trees of India