Mango

Introduction

Mango is popularly known as the “King of fruits”. Mango is known as Amra in Sanskrit, Aam in Hindi, Manga in Tamil, Mavu in Kannada etc. Its botanical name is Mangifera Indica. The word “mango” is derived from the Malayalam word manna via Portuguese (manga) during spice trade with Kerala in 1498. Gradually the word manga became mango. Mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan, Philippines, and the national tree of Bangladesh. It belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae (the cashew or sumac family).

Description of the tree

Mango tree is a native of India. It is grown since thousands of years (more than 4000 years). Mango is also grown in North America, South and Central America, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Australia, Central Africa and South East Asia. It is cultivated in the tropical and sub tropical parts of the world.

Mango tree is an ever green tree which grows up to a height of 60 feet and keeps spreading. A mango tree will bear fruits in 4- 6 years from the time of planting. A hot and dry climate is suitable for mango cultivation. Mango can be grown in any type of soil. Malgova, Raspuri, Neelam, Sindoora, Mallika, Bainganpalli etc are some popular varieties grown in India.  There are more than 400 varieties of mango grown all over the world. The fruit takes three to six months to ripen. Mango is harvested during March- May in India. India is the largest producer of mangoes in the world.

The fruit is rich in pulp which tastes sweet and a little sour. The leaves are alternately arranged, long and narrow shaped, which grow up to 6-16 inches. The leaves are pinkish amber, or pale green when tender and become dark green at maturity.

Puranic Reference:

In Bhagavata Purana, it is mentioned that mango tree is present on Mount Mandara. The mango tree is considered sacred by both the Hindus and Buddhists. Lord Buddha was once presented with a grove of mango trees, under which he would relax. Thus the Buddhists consider the tree sacred. It is also known as the heavenly fruit in Vedas.

Once Lord Buddha ate a mango fruit, the seed of which He gave to Ananda, His favourite disciple to plant at a chosen place. After Ananda had planted the seed, Buddha washed His hands over it and suddenly a mango plant sprang from it bearing flowers and fruits.

The daughter of the Sun god Surya was under the spell of a sorceress. She fell into a pond and became a lotus to escape the evil design of the sorceress. A King who saw the lotus flower desired to possess it. Even before he could possess the flower, the sorceress burnt the flower into ashes. From the ashes rose the mango tree. When the mango tree bore flowers and fruits, the King desired to keep the fruit to himself. When the fruit ripened and fell on the ground, from it arose the daughter of the Sun God. The king immediately recognised her as his wife in his previous birth.

Lord Shiva sat under the mango tree during His separation from goddess Parvati. Later by the grace of goddess Lalitha, Shiva married Parvati and went to reside at Mount Kailash.

Ayurvedic Uses

In Ayurveda, mango cures all the three -Vata, Pittha and Kapha doshas. The ripe mango causes heat and boosts the energy levels in the body. The unripe fruit tastes sour and has astringent and cooling properties. Ayurveda advices caution about eating raw mangoes. Raw mangoes alone should not be eaten in large quantities, as it can increase the pitta dosha. However, it can be used in combination with other food, like in Chutneys, which will help in digestion.

Mangoes are a powerhouse of essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients (antioxidants) fibre and enzymes that strengthen the immune system. Mangoes consist of antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial cardio tonic, emetic, expectorant, hypotensive, laxative properties. The presence of tartaric acid, malic acid and a little of citric acid helps the body in maintaining the alkali reserve energy. Mangoes possess the phenols, quercetin, isoquercitfin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid, and methylgallat.

Mango is low in protein, sodium and contains no cholesterol.  The fibre in the fruit cleanses the body and thus is a panacea for constipation. Mangoes improve the appetite and are effective in removing the toxins from the body. The high levels of potassium and magnesium help in combating muscle cramps, stress and cardiac problems.

Eye Sight: Mangoes are a rich source of Vitamin A and beta Carotene. Thus it helps improve the eye sight.

Skin Complexion: Mangoes rich in Vitamin E improve the skin complexion. Mango opens the closed pores and gives a shining glow.

Blood Pressure: Mangoes are a rich source of Potassium which helps in controlling the heart rate and thus the blood pressure.

Protects from heart disease:  Mangoes are rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It helps the body fight against harmful infections and harmful free radicals. It protects the body from heart disease and stroke.

Anaemia: As the fruit is rich in iron and has copper too, regular consumption of mango cures anaemia.

Extract of the leaves, bark, stem and raw mangoes have antibacterial properties. The leaves, bark and the kernel have medicinal properties.

Mango leaves have anti-inflammatory, diuretic and cardio tonic properties. The leaves contain glucoside and mangiferine. Dried and powdered mango leaves are good in removing kidney stones and improving hair growth. The powder of the leaves when dried and burnt is effective in providing relief for burns. A concoction of the mango leaves is effective in treating diabetes retinopathy and hyper tension. The organic compounds in the mango leaves are effective in treating hyperglycaemia. Leaves soaked in water overnight and squeezing them well before filtering the water is useful in treating early diabetes. As an alternative, the leaves could be dried in Sun and powdered and preserved. Half a tea spoon of powder, consumed in the morning and in the evening helps in the control of diabetes in the early stages.

Leaves are used to treat diarrhoea, fever, asthma, cough, bronchitis, common cold and insomnia. A concoction of leaves when used as a mouth wash relieves pain associated with gum problems.

Mango bark  is effective in treating haemoptysis, haemorrhaging, nasal catarrh, diarrhoea, ulcers, diphtheria, rheumatism and diphtheria. A decoction of mango bark added to one gram of black salt helps treat diarrhoea. Juice of the bark is used to stop heavy bleeding during menstruation. Bark contains mangiferine effective in the treatment of rheumatism and diphtheria. The resinous gum is useful for external applications to treat cracks on the foot, scabies and syphilis.

Mango root  a paste of the root can reduce fever when applied to the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

Mango kernel seed:  The kernel contains gailc acid in large quantities which is highly useful in treating piles and menorrhagia. The juice of the kernel if snuffed prevents nasal bleeding.  Kernel is used in treating gum related problems like pyorrhoea and halitosis. Seeds are useful in treating diarrhoea. Seeds should be dried in shade and powdered. The paste of the decorticated kernel of the mango is useful as a contraceptive. Using the powder of the seed kernel along with water is effective in curing the habit of soil eating in children. Paste of mango roots when applied on soles and palms is effective in reducing the temperature. Fine powder of mango seeds mixed with buttermilk, consumed twice a day is an effective antidote for piles problem.

Raw Mango: Sucking the juice of a raw mango roasted on a pan of hot sand is effective in providing relief for common cold and bronchitis. Raw mango pulp mixed with salt reduces thirst. The raw fruit is useful to combat sunstroke.

Flowers: Juice of fresh flowers taken with curds is used in the treatment of diarrhoea. Dried mango flowers which contains 15% tannin is used as an astringent in treating diarrhoea, chronic dysentery, catarrh of the bladder,  and chronic urethritis resulting from gonorrhoea.

Mango Pulp: A mixture of mango pulp with milk or drinking milk after eating the fruit gives vigour and energy to the body. Eating mango regularly improves the complexion of the skin. Taking mango juice and Jamun juice in equal proportion is effective in controlling diabetes. In the Ayurvedic text Bhavaprakasa, syrup from the juice of the ripe fruit, sugar and aromatics is recommended as a restorative tonic.

Mango Peel: The peel of the fruit contains Pectin (is a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants). Pectin is effective in treating high cholesterol, high triglycerides, prevent colon cancer, prostate cancer and diabetes.

Other uses

The seed kernels soaked and dried to a 10% moisture content is used as poultry feed. The seed fat is used in soap making. The bark contains tannin which is used in the leather industry for tanning hides.The gum, which is resinous in nature, is used to mend crockery in Africa. However, it is used as a substitute for Gum Arabic. Pulp of the fruit is used in jams, jelly and juice. The dried juice mixed with wheat flour is used in baby foods.

After soaking the seed kernel to remove the tannin content, it is dried and powdered.  This powder is mixed with wheat or rice flour and is used to make bread and sometimes pudding.

The fat extracted from the seed is white, tallow, edible and thus is used as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate.

Immature mango leaves are cooked and eaten in Indonesia and Philippines.

Significance

Hindus consider the mango tree as a transformation of the god Prajapati, the Brahma. Therefore on all festivals, marriages and religious occasions, mango leaves are used in decorating the entrance.

A Kalsha, is prepared with mango leaves. A pitcher of water decorated with mango leaves at its mouth and a coconut smeared with sandal paste, turmeric and vermillion is placed amidst the mango leaves and worshipped. This is called as full pitcher or Purnakumbha which is symbolic of invoking gods and goddesses.

In some communities, the bride and bridegroom have to circumvent a tree before the marriage ceremony. For this purpose the bride smears Mahua (Bassia latifolia) tree with vermilion, circumvents the tree and then embraces it. The bridegroom smears vermillion to the mango tree, circumvents it and then embraces it.

The wood of the tree is considered sacred and is used in Homa/Havan.

It is also used in funeral pyre.

The flowers of the tree are dedicated to the moon. It is considered auspicious to offer flowers to the moon god and the god of love Kamadeva during the Magha Masa.(Feb- March).

Raw mango is used in chutneys, pickles.

Mango wood should never be used for fuel, as its smoke causes irritation.

Mango flowers are used in the worship of goddess Saraswathi.

Ugadi celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is incomplete without mango pachadi or some recipe made of raw mango.

According to Vrukshayurveda, it is mentioned that He who plants five or six mango trees attains the abode of Garuda and lives happily forever like gods.