How mango got its name; interesting facts about ‘Aam’

April 16, 2013 10:47 PM |

Summer welcomes in the mango months in India but have you ever wondered about the origin of oldest (6000 years) and the most famous fruit in the world. Here are some interesting insights about the origin and unknown facts about our very own ‘Aam’, you never knew :

- Botanically the species Magnifera Indica originated in the Eastern Himalayas in the India-Burma (Myamnar) border, several thousand years ago.

- In Sanskrit, one the earliest known languages spoken in that part of India, it is called aamra.  The fruit itself is called aamra-phalam.  In the neighboring plains of North India where Hindi is the spoken language it is called aam-phal.  The tree then migrated to the south of the Vindhyas where Tamil was the spoken language. The equivalent in Tamil of the Hindi word phal is kaay.  So aam-phal became aam-kaay. In course of time aam-kaay became maamkaay due to transposition of pronounciation. The aamkaay then gradually became maamkaay or maangai. In Malayalam language, which is a descendant of Tamil, maangai became maanga.

- Until Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut, a port town in the Malabar Coast of Kerala, the mango fruit was not known to Europeans.  The Portuguese adopted the Malayalam word maanga in Portuguese. Who then wrote a letter to their British friends that they have found a new fruit in India called manga. Since there were no typewriters and the letter was written by hand, the British renamed it as mango, since most of Portuguese words end in “o” and those found in the new world ended in “o” as in avocado, potato, tomato, tobacco, and so on. This new word soon entered the English vocabulary.

- Mango is called the ‘King of Fruits’ and rules the hearts of everyone around the world. It comes in 550 varieties. It can be consumed in many forms - straight from tree as a fruit, extract from the fruit as juice / nectar, its pulp processed as jam and chutney, spicy as a pickle, mixed with milk and curds as shakes.

- In 2009, a Filipino couple Sergio and Maria Socorro Bodiongan grew a 3.5-kilo mango in their backyard in Iligan City on Mindanao Island, which entered the Guinnees Book of World Records. The mango measured 12 inches in length and seven inches in diameter and was derived from the Florida Keith variety.

- The skin of the mango isn’t considered edible. Mango leaves too are considered toxic and can possibly kill cattle or other grazing livestock. Dermatitis can also result from contact with the resinous latex sap that drips from the stem end when mangoes are harvested.  Burning of mango wood can create toxic fumes that can cause serious irritation to eyes and lungs.

- An average sized mango can contain up to 40% of your daily fiber requirement. If you are eating your mango-a-day you will be spared from constipation, piles. Mangoes are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and Vitamin C, Antioxidants have been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

- A mango stored at 12⁰C to 15⁰C will last for up to two weeks and doesn’t require any refrigeration.

- India Produces 1,63,37,400 tons of Mango every year and is the largest producer in the world.

- International Mango Festival celebrates everything about the King of all tropical fruits, ‘Mango’ every year at the Delhi Haat, Pitampura where one can savour over 1100 varieties of mangoes and some rare species of the sumptuous fruit. This year the festival will be held from 30th June to 2nd July.

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