Mango Diplomacy: where the aam becomes the khaas

harivanga mangoes

For something as sweet as the sumptuous decadence of the mango to hold in its ploy a power that in its deliciousness smacks of an air of calculated diplomatic interests speaks volumes of the lengths and extents that the human wit can go to forge an association of such unrelated measures for his own personal interests, overriding perhaps even the naturally gifted sum and substance of its occurring. And with a whole terminology of what is known as ‘mango diplomacy’ to back this substantial play of dealing with vested interests in the widely encompassing realm of the political, it sure is certain that even in its royal legacy as the King of Fruits, the rich and exquisite juicy and pulpy connotations of the mango has not been able to steer clear of all such associations that invariably accompany the placing of the glittering crown of tastefulness on its delicate head.

As the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina recently took to embarking along this path of diplomatic affiliation by sending tokens of friendship and goodwill to the Indian PM Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind as well as to chief ministers of certain eastern and north eastern states with whom the country shares its border, what made their rather unassuming way into the confines of the Indian territory are some couple thousands of kilos of juicy, plump, seasonal mangoes. While this particular gesture of political connotations isn’t anything particularly surprising along the affairs of the statecraft in the subcontinent, it also is not something very typical as well. So as to say, this partake of mangoes as grand gestures of give and take with obviously underlying assumptions in mind has been a feature more observable in strategic actions conforming to the Indian and the Pakistani context, whether with each other or expansive throughout, making therefore the move by the chief executive of the Bangladeshi government one in unprecedence. Remarkably also, the king of fruits is the national fruit of India as well as Pakistan but not of Bangladesh where it is the jackfruit that reigns supreme as the country’s fruit of national importance.

But what renders this recent exercise in mango diplomacy carried out by Bangladesh, hitherto unexplored perhaps a tactic of its governance, also interesting is the variety of the fruit that it send out as emblematic of its own sweetness. Famed globally for its production of some of the world’s most luscious, superior quality mangoes, the consignment that touched down upon Indian territory on duty to further the strengthening of the diplomatic ties between the neighbours consists entirely of one of the most exquisite varieties of the fruit, called the Harivanga. Native to the region of Rangpur in Bangladesh, what will be achieved out of this sweet feast of well measured doses of saccharine is unpredictable at the moment. But the trail of literal deliciousness that this special gift is set to have our bureaucrats take a rather indulgent detour into is guaranteed indeed. As the only fibreless mango in Bangladesh, Harivanga is a real delight of the sweltering subcontinental summers that satisfies every parched throat with its sugary trickle of juiciness stuffed to the brim of its fleshy body, that has been gracing the soils and blessing the souls of the land ever since it was first produced in the 1990s.

Distinct in its flavour and sweetness, as well as in its appearance that though is round projects a very visible elongation at the end of its shapely body, this dark green colored mango variety is unique also in its nature that keeps it fresh and intact for a long time. In fact even as the skin of a red and ripened Harivanga begins to wrinkle, the mangoes do not rot and retains their fragrant, juicy essence which explains their immense popularity among mango lovers. But what perhaps makes for the most interesting exploration of this unique breed of mango stems a lot from its rather remarkable name. As outlined in the Bangladesh National Portal is the distinctive story of this distinctive mango variety that rests in an etymology of interesting leanings. The story goes that on the lands of zamindar Tej Bahadur Singh in the region of Barendro where the said mango came to delve deep into through its roots upon being brought and planted by one of the zamindar’s subjects Nafal Uddin who hailed from Tekani, the dry weather and similarly dry soil on where the orchard stood necessitated a rather innovative means for its watering. Earthen pots, locally known as hanris were made a hole into and filled with water and hung over the plant, acting therefore as some sort of a filter that watered the mango sapling regularly. However, it so happened that one day someone broke the earthen pot over the tree thereby lending this particular variety of the fruit the name Hanrivanga or Harivanga which stuck as its identity. Originally called maldia, the mother tree from where the pen was planted however continues to exist till this day in Tekani village of Khoragachera in Mithapukur, Rangpur, as nothing short of a spawning legacy that has given rise to a whole world of wonder within the already delightful delicacy that mangoes have never ceased to be. Another less dramatic and more practical tale that guards the legacy of the Harivanga mango variety relates again to the conditions in which they used to be grown. Planted in broken earthen ware pots these saplings grew to take the name of the broken moulds on which they were grown thereby imbibing in them the essence of their rather intriguing nomenclature that continues to hold many a mango lovers spellbound in the world still both in their tale and in taste.

Source: Chaldal

Today spurring the economic self sufficiency of the entire region of Rangpur, the Harivanga mango has grown to be widely cherished for its uniqueness of taste and aroma as well as in its late harvest time that just about extends the mango season for a whole lot of mango lovers. The yield of the variety itself is high and the trees more resilient and therefore resistant to the ravages of raging storms, capable also of being grown in both high and low land areas, making the Harivanga a very versatile mango variety that has come to covet attention in a relatively short period of time. Whether this all round appeal of the Harivanga will transcend the terrains of taste and appeal also to the shrewd considerations of diplomatic linkings as intended by Sheikh Hasina would however rest on more nuanced a palate of flavour affinities that sure would go beyond the simplistic but soulful amalgamation of delights that mangoes will continue to be for the lesser mortals of the world in all their regal aura.