The Banana Tree, Leaf and Fruits and Hindu Life & Culture?

 

Dr Sushil Rudra

Significance Of Banana Tree & Leaves In Hindu Culture

Significance of banana tree and leaves in Hindu culture
image:pixel/ The Banana Tree, Leaf and Fruits

Banana fruits are our daily consumed food. Our breakfast can not be fulfilled without this solid food. Not only we eat ripe banana, we also have it in our recipe. It’s green and unripe banana. This green banana is used only for cooking or boiling.

Botanically a banana is a berry. It’s an elongated, edible food item. Mainly it’s produced by several kinds of large flowering trees.   In some countries,  there are two kinds of bananas. One type of banana can be used for cooking. It may be called “plantains”.

The banana is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved. There is a condensed soft flesh rich in starch  covered with a rind. The cover of the fruits may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe.

The fruits grow upward in clusters near the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible seedless bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata  and Musa Balbisiana.

The scientific names  of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. There is another type of banana, that’s hybrid. The old scientific name for this hybrid, Musa sapientum, is no longer used.

Photo: Pexels.com

ORIGIN & HERITAGE:

Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia. It’s likely to be the first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They are probably now grown in 135 countries. It is largely in food and beverage companies primarily for their fruit. Moreover, it has an enormous demand to make fibre, wine, and  banana beer. The world’s largest producers of bananas in 2022 are India and China, which together accounted for approximately 40% of total production.

Worldwide, there is no sharp distinction between “bananas” and “plantains”. Especially in the Americas and Europe, “banana” usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas, particularly those of the Cavendish group. They are the main exports from banana-growing countries. In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, many more kinds of bananas are grown and eaten, so the binary distinction is not as useful and is not made in local languages.

THE BANANA AS A FOOD & NUTRITION

Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Many types and sizes exist. Their color usually ranges from green to yellow, but some varieties are red.

This article tells you everything you need to know about bananas.

Nutrition facts

The nutrition facts for 1 medium-sized banana (100 grams) are:

  • Calories: 89
  • Water: 75%
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Carbs: 22.8 grams
  • Sugar: 12.2 grams
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams

Carbs

Bananas are a rich source of carbs, which occur mainly as starch in unripe bananas and sugars in ripe bananas.

The carb composition of bananas changes drastically during ripening.

The main component of unripe bananas is starch. Green bananas contain up to 80% starch measured in dry weight.

During ripening, the starch is converted into sugars and ends up being less than 1% when the banana is fully ripe .

The most common types of sugar in ripe bananas are sucrose, fructose, and glucose. In ripe bananas, the total sugar content can reach more than 16% of the fresh weight.

Bananas have a relatively low glycemic index (GI) of 42–58, depending on their ripeness. The GI is a measure of how quickly carbs in food enter your bloodstream and raise blood sugar .

Bananas’ high content of resistant starch and fiber explains their low GI.

Fibers

A high proportion of the starch in unripe bananas is resistant starch . It passes through your gut undigested.

In our large intestine, this starch is fermented by bacteria to form butyrate. a short-chain fatty acid that appears to have beneficial effects on gut health .

Bananas are also a good source of other types of fiber, such as pectin. Some of the pectin in bananas is water-soluble.

When bananas ripen, the proportion of water-soluble pectin increases, which is one of the main reasons why bananas turn soft as they age .

Both pectin and resistant starch moderate the rise in blood sugar after a meal.

Vitamins and minerals

Bananas are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C .

  • Potassium. Bananas are a good source of potassium. A diet high in potassium can lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels and benefits heart health (6Trusted Source).
  • Vitamin B6. Bananas are high in vitamin B6. One medium-sized banana can provide up to 33% of the Daily Value (DV) of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin C. Like most fruit, bananas are a good source of vitamin C.

THE BANANA: TREE – LEAVES – FRUIT & HINDU CULTURE

Trees, plants and animals that exist in nature or constitute nature are worshipped with great devotion and sincerity according to Hindu mythology and belief. Trees are revered as God in Hinduism since ancient time. Each and every tree and animal is directly related to Hindu God or deities and are considered important for specific qualities. Like Tulsi, peepal, neem, aam, ashoka, bilvapatra, nariyal and many other that are prayed or used in puja or marriage ceremonies, banana plant is also worshipped in Indian culture.

Every part of the banana tree is significant whether its root, stem, fruit or leafs. Read the article to know why the banana tree is worshipped and know the significance of banana tree.

Though the banana tree is not a tree but is seen as one because of its structure and style. The sacred banana plant is regarded as God Brihaspati and is offered prayers for the welfare of the family.

The entire banana plant is considered sacred and it is known as ‘Kadali’ in the Sanskrit language. There are varied reasons why the banana leaves are considered holy in Hindu culture.

According to Hindu Mythology, Rishi Durvasa had cursed his wife as she interrupted his sleep. He cursed him to turn into a banana tree. Upon receiving the curse, she pleaded with her husband for a wish that she should be treated special and like a holy plant. Rishi Duravasa fulfilled her wish and since that day, the leaves of banana trees are considered auspicious and sacred in Hindu culture.

Significance of Banana tree in Hindu culture

  • There is a traditional custom in the Hindu religion to decorate the entrance of the marriage hall and the house of the bridegroom and bride with two banana trees. According to the belief, the tree symbolises that the married life of the couple would be evergreen and the relationship and love between them would be endless. The couple would be showered with all the prosperity of the world and with children.
  • According to the ancient scriptures of the Hindu religion, the tree is considered equivalent to ‘Devaguru or Brihaspati’. The belief is very prevalent and the individuals who can’t afford Yellow Sapphire gemstone can wear the root of the tree. Planting the tree at home is equivalent to having a Guru or Brihaspati at home.
  • The banana tree is devoutly religious which symbolizes Lord Vishnu and it should be worshipped every Thursday to avail the benefits of the planet Jupiter.
  • The banana fruit is offered as Prasad or Bhog to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. It is a belief that Vishnu and Lakshmi love the fruit and they bless devotees with a happy married life, good financial condition and happiness for the whole family.
  • During the Durga Puja, a grand festival of Bengalis, the form of the Goddess is created with banana plantain. This form of Goddess known as Kola Bou is considered the bride of Lord Ganesha. She is given a bath before evening and placed next to Lord Ganesha on the day of Maha Saptami.

In Hindu culture, a banana tree has a great significance. It is quite common to decorate homes with banana leaves on auspicious events, wedding ceremonies and other happy occasions. Besides, banana fruits are offered to deities.

There are many reasons for the importance of banana tree and its leaves. As per some legends, once Rishi Durvasa’s wife disturbed his sleep. Hence, Durvasa cursed her to turn into a banana tree. However, he granted her wish of treating banana tree as a sacred plant considering her request. It is believed that the tree is considered holy since then. Usage of banana leaves is mentioned in Vedic rituals. Hence, they are believed to be holy.

Here is the significance of banana leaves and tree:

  • Banana leaves are used to decorate the entrance of the wedding venue. A banana tree symbolises an everlasting relationship. Hence, wishing an evergreen relationship and love between the couple, these leaves are used for decoration.
  • It is also believed that Lord Ganesha is fond of banana leaves. Hence, these leaves are used during Ganapathi Puja.
  • Banana leaves are used to distribute Prasad in some temples.
  • Not just that, Goddess Durga is created with banana plantain during Durga Puja in Bengal.
  • The banana trunk represents luck and riches. That’s why it is used to decorate homes during festivals and other religious events.
  • As per some Puranas, the banana tree is treated as Brihaspati, the Guru of Gods. Hence, planting a banana tree at home is believed to fetch many benefits. Worshipping this tree on every Thursday is considered to get the benefits of Jupiter.
  • The tree also represents Lord Vishnu. Hence worshipping the tree and offering banana fruit as Prasad to Lord Vishnu and his consort Goddess Lakshmi is believed to please them. Devotees will be blessed with wealth, happiness and long marital bliss for this.
  • Banana leaf is used to distribute Prasad or Bhog to the devotees in temples. Banana fruits are offered to God and Goddesses as Naivedyam or Bhog.
  • The trunk of the tree denotes good luck and prosperity and so it is used for decoration during religious festivals or ceremonies in Hindu culture.
  • Lord Ganesh is fond of banana leaves and gets appeased by the offering of leaves during Ganpati puja.
  • A Banana leaf and fruits are offered to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi as a religious offering.
  • The usage of the banana leaves is mentioned in all Vedic rituals as they are considered sacred in Hindu culture. The banana fruit is considered as the most energetic fruits and it is affordable for all

References

  1. a b “Banana from ‘Fruits of Warm Climates’ by Julia Morton”. Hort.purdue.edu. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
  2. ^ Armstrong, Wayne P. “Identification Of Major Fruit Types”Wayne’s Word: An On-Line Textbook of Natural History. Archived from the original on November 20, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  3. a b “Banana”Merriam-Webster Online DictionaryArchived from the original on March 9, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  4. ^ “Tracing antiquity of banana cultivation in Papua New Guinea”. The Australia & Pacific Science Foundation. Archived from the original on August 29, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2007.
  5. ^ Nelson, Ploetz & Kepler 2006.
  6. ^ “Where bananas are grown”. ProMusa. 2013. Archived from the original on October 25, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  7. ^ “Banana facts & figures”. How is banana production cost structured?. fao.org. 2013. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  8. ^ Picq, Claudine & INIBAP, eds. (2000). Bananas (PDF) (English ed.). Montpellier: International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantains/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. ISBN 978-2-910810-37-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  9. ^ Stover & Simmonds 1987, pp. 5–9.
  10. ^ Stover & Simmonds 1987, p. 212.
  11. ^ Stover & Simmonds 1987, pp. 13–17.
  12. ^ Nelson, Ploetz & Kepler 2006, p. 26.
  13. a b Ploetz et al. 2007, p. 12.
  14. ^ “Banana Plant Growing Info”. Greenearth. Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  15. ^ Stover & Simmonds 1987, pp. 9–13.

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