Mango-lore of Bengal

Abstract The mango (Mangifera indica L.) makes up a significant horticultural blessing of India. No other fruit has such a conspicuous register in written works, verses, mythical tradition, chronicles, painting and statuesque as that of mango. The colloquial name of mango is ‘aam’ which implies ‘the common’. It is not only typical throughout India; but is also the fruit of the ordinary folk people. Attributable to its nutritive advantage mango has pandemic solicitation and promptly called the ‘king of fruit’. Moreover, ripe fruit is revitalizing, energizing, fattening, diuretic and laxative. Each and every portion is promising, rewarding and propitious and has been employed in folk remedies in some procedure or another. Besides gobbled as dessert as well as green, mango can be cured by processing into different products in domicile and folk industry. Like Ayurveda, folk medicine also gives equal importance to preventives as well as curative measures but folk prescriptions are covered in the name of rituals and rites and some other cultural behaviour. Gangetic West Bengal is rich in mango-lore and the folk people have valuable wisdom relating to mango and they undertake their own experimentation in their own ways either in the orchards (for ITKs), or in the kitchens (for folk foods) or in the dispensaries (for folk medicines) and in the mind-land (for folk literature). Therefore, it was worthwhile to conduct a survey in the perspective of mango-lore of the Gangetic West Bengal for collecting and documenting the riches of folklore by participatory rural folk appraisal. The present study is based on intensive surveys carried out over a period of 4 years starting from the year 2007 with a detailed account of the folk diversities, folk knowledge and cultural tradition pertaining to mango cultivation and industry in Bengal. Mango-lore, the aggregate of cultural tradition delineating mango, is originated from the beliefs, culture and customs of folk people and it covers the tradition based cultural expressions exemplified by non-material folklore (viz. riddles, proverbs, sayings, folk tales, folk songs etc.) and material folklore (viz. folk foods, folk medicines, folk implements, folk varieties etc.). In the folk songs and dramas of Bengal, the diversities in mango are mentioned. Less than 5 per cent mango area of Bengal is under the cultivation of these diversities. Though it is now a common practice that orchardist-folk sells their orchards to the merchant-folk for a specific period of time, the so called folk germplasm are kept for their own consumption. Though the industrial-orchardist, now-a-days, have least interest in those folk varieties and more frequently than not they avail the opportunity of felling those, the ambitious scientists and institutions are now looking forward to have right to hold the genetic resources of the folk germplasm of mango. But as folk wisdom as well as folk variety of mango is the wealth of a folk, any individual does not claim the credit and these are closely related to culture and heritage of folk people in confined locations. Social scientists should be alert regarding this folk-intellection in plant improvement of mango.

Keywords Folk food, Folk knowledge, Folk literature, Folklore, Folk medicine, Folk-variety, Mango-lore, Participatory Research.

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Mango-lore of Bengal

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