Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mango Love

I’ve been thinking of doing a Valentine’s Day post about how I met Mowgli, but it would take a long time to get it right, and I’d rather spend time with my honey today.

Yesterday I resurrected my habit of going to the farmer’s market, where I was thrilled to find five peaches for a dollar and red peppers for a reasonable price, and came very close to picking up some mangoes. When I told Mowgli about all of this, he supplied me with my topic by reminding me of a longstanding mango-based tradition.

India and Pakistan are both famous for and proud of their mangoes, and they practice mango diplomacy: an annual mango exchange between the countries' leaders, no matter the state of affairs between them. If relations are tense enough to eliminate direct flights between the nations, the fruit is routed through a neutral country such as the United Arab Emirates.

The custom dates to the mid-1800s and is thought to originate in Sindh and the southern Punjab provinces, where tribal tradition dictates that if you accept a crate of mangoes from a rival, whatever feud you had is gone instantly. A welcome side benefit is the evaporation of the need for an embarrassing and potentially tricky verbal apology.

To do it completely by the book, however, the mangoes must be from your own orchard – picking up a crate from the market is not acceptable.

Mangoes are also exchanged between politicians who are on good terms, brought as a gift on special occasions, and are so well-loved that there is an official annual festival, complete with eating contests, a mango quiz, and a slogan-writing competition for children.

1 comment:

  1. Such power in this fruit! Who knew that Mangoes could be such peace makers. This reader only knows that they are one of her favorite fruits. She also carries the nickname, "Mango Mama", given to her by Mrs. Masala's youngest brother.


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