By Riaz Yusufzai
Mango is known as the ‘king of all fruits’ in South Asia. Renowned Urdu poet of Indian subcontinent Mirza Asadullah Khan popularly known as ‘Mirza Ghalib’ was very fond of this fruit. He on several occasion uttered beautiful words in praise of mango which are still quoted and inscribed in the pages of history. Once he said, “Mangoes need to have two qualities only. One they should be sweet and the other they should to be abundant”. Ghalib’s love for mango did not end there. On another occasion when a donkey did not eat mango and its peels he was quoted as saying sarcastically that, “Donkey does not eat mangoes.”
Similarly, once Mirza Ghalib was invited by Emperor Bahader Shah Zafar to his mango orchard where Ghalib started looking at the fully ripe mangoes on the trees and he said, “Everything has the name marked on it of the person who will consume it.” The king understood and gave gift of mango baskets to Mirza Ghalib.
Perhaps after this the subcontinent dignitaries particularly the politicians also started sending mangoes as gifts to each other.
Varieties of mangoes
The varieties of mangoes were originally made popular by Sher Shah Suri in the Indian subcontinent while commemorating his victory over Hamayun at Bihar. He gave his favorite mango the name Chaunsa. Today Rahimyar Khan and Multan in Punjab are centre of chaunsa cultivation and export. In the international market, its demand is very high.
MANGO IN PAKISTAN
Pakistan is the 5th largest mango producer in the world. Mango is the 2nd largest produced fruit of Pakistan after citrus. Punjab and Sindh are the major mango growing provinces. More than 200 varieties of mango are cultivated in Pakistan. Most popular types of mangoes in Pakistan are Langra, Chaunsa, Anwar Ratol, Sindhri and Dussehri. Sindhri and Chaunsa are exported in huge quantity.
This year reportedly Pakistan gifted mangoes to 32 countries as a part of mango diplomacy. Besides foreign diplomacy, local politicians also send mangoes to each other as a goodwill gesture as well as to get one another’s support in time of political turmoil and crisis. Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah during his last tenure had sent a truck loaded with mangoes to every parliamentarian in Sindh Assembly thanking them for supporting him as the chief minister and this news was carried by local media prominently.
MANGOES’ HEALTH BENIFITS
Mangoes are very good for health as they are rich in vitamins and minerals. Mangoes are rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C which are good for our eyes and health. Mangoes are also rich in vitamin E, zinc, iron and calcium. Vitamin E is also good for our skin and calcium makes our bones stronger. Following the footprints of Mirza Ghalib, we shall consume mango in a variety of ways and must do it for all the goodness of vitamins and minerals that it has.
MANGO PARTY FOR JOURNALISTS
In the picture taken almost 21 years back in one hotel of Swat, I am trying to suck nectar from the mango while former correspondent of BBC and former Bureau Chief of GEO News Mehmood Jan Baber is squeezing the mango in his both hands before following in my foot prints of eating it. His curiosity of eating mango can be judged from his body language especially from his wide open eyes and teeth reaction that how happy he is for eating mango. It does not mean he was taking mango for the first time but he was our trip leader and was taking care of all of us to eat their respective share of mangoes and then he will eat his share of mangoes at the end. While Saiful Islam Safi is smiling with open mouth, Abid Pervez Awan is sitting beside him as he has already finished his job by eating all mangoes in his plate. Similarly, Naeem Sarhadi has peeled it and almost ate half of it while the other colleague on his right side from Daily Khabrain has also finished his job of mango eating. Famous Pashto comedian and TV star Ismail Shahid and his CD crew members were also staying in the same hotel on the occasion for filming a play in picturesque Swat valley. They also met us after the party. Initially, when CD players were introduced in the province, majority of the films were shot in Swat, owing to its wonderful lush green landscapes and natural beauty.