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Banana is a tropical plant that is grown in India, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Caribbean regions.  The most common use the world has found of the plant is its edible fruit. In India, however, every part of the Banana Plant has been utilized as food, medicine, art and craft, packaging material, cosmetic and more. This plant is considered sacred and is a part of various customs and rituals of India.

You may have come across many Banana plantations as you travel through some Indian villages.  Big Banana leaves swaying to the wind makes greenery more prominent in these little villages and towns.

The various name of the humble Banana Plant

It is called Kela in the Hindi belt of the country.  It is Bale Gida in Karnataka, Palam in Kerala, Aratichettu in the Telugu land, Vazhai in Tamil Nadu and Kela in Maharastra.  It is called Kadali in Sanskrit and this term occurs in many Vedic mantras which are uttered during festivals and poojas.


Edible Uses

Most parts of the Banana Plant is edible. The edible parts of the plant are a rich source of fibre, minerals – potassium, Magnesium and vitamins – A, B6, C and D.

banana plant photoPhoto by Arctic Wolf Pictures

  1. The ripe fruit is a low cost and highly nutritious foodstuff sometimes eaten raw or made into sweets and desserts.  It also used for milkshakes.
  2. Banana fruit powder is used as Baby food.
  3. Raw banana is cooked in curries, baked or fried to make tasty fritters.
  4. The florets of the flower of this plant are cooked or eaten raw

Medical Uses

The Juice of Banana fruit, flower and stem are used for medicinal purposes according to Ayurveda.  Banana stem is a rich fibre source and aids digestion.

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banana plant photoPhoto by llee_wu

  1. The juice of Banana flower has been found effective in controlling heavy bleeding during menstruation
  2. Patients suffering from Dyspnoea can get some relief by taking unripe bananas roasted on charcoal
  3. Ripe fruits are used as a laxative
  4. It helps improve concentration.
  5. It relaxes the mind and has been found useful to combat depression
  6. Some people find its use in combating morning sickness.
  7. The fruit has been found effective in controlling blood pressure and other related ailments
  8. Even the stem of this plant is consumed after stripping the fibre content in it.
  9. Juice of the stem is known to remove kidney stones.
  10. The corm of this plant decreases acidity.

Uses of Banana Plant as a Cosmetic

Some people use Banana pulp and peels to make face packs.  The pulp is known to reduce wrinkles.  The pulp is also used for burns and wounds to relieve pain.  Special hair packs from Banana plant are used as a cure for dry hair.

Other Uses

The leaves of this tree are used as platters for eating food in the south. They were and are even now used for packing lunch.  Try eating a meal served on a Banana leaf.  The food seems more delicious this way.   Leaves are also used as a cover for steaming dumplings. Fibers of the Banana stem are used for craft work.  The whole plant is hung outside marriage halls for increasing positive energy.  Even the fashion industry is creating beautiful fabrics out of this plant’s fibre.

Rituals associated with Banana Plant

Since Banana plant provides so many utilities to us, it is revered as a sacred tree in India.  As Thanksgiving, many people take up Kadali Vratha and Yaksamantaka Kadali Vratha.  On these days, the persons undertake these  Poojas dedicated to the Banana tree.  New stems are planted and circumbulated.

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This tree is a symbol of Lord Vishnu and home to Goddess Lakshmi.  People pray to this tree to provide happiness in marriage, growth and prosperity.  Ripe Bananas are the most common offering made to the Gods on various festive occasions.

Bananas are a great favourite among Indians.  Though India is not a Banana republic by any means, it can be Banana dependent and a Banana worshipper too.  Its economy and political situation are slippery like the Banana peel and tethers on its brink at times. But it never trips over as it is supported by the amazing diversity of people who are its true assets.

Featured Photo by j.o.h.n. walker

BANANA PLANT AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO INDIAN SOCIETY

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