Bananas have thrived on the Asian subcontinent for thousands of years. As early as the 13th century, however, tropical fruits were a novel concept amongst Europe’s aristocracy. Marco Polo regaled Europeans with tales of strange and unusual fruits, including the banana. In the US, the 100th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence featured a banana as its exotic showpiece.
In India, bananas are integral parts of the culture. The god Vishnu proclaimed of the fruit, “As the bark and leaves of the kadali tree are to be seen in its stem, so thou art the stem of the universe and all things visible to thee.” Even today, followers of Shiva and Vishnu believe banana plants are auspicious. Upon attending an Indian wedding, one may see a banana stalk near the stage symbolizing fertility, and women desiring a son thereafter may worship the plant during the month of Kartik