Unpeeling the cultural importance of the banana in India

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India has broader access to banana varieties compared to the Cavendish which is most popular in the United States. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Anthropologist Deepa Reedy says Indians tend to "think with the banana." She explains that in India, the banana is ubiquitous. Indians use it in both quotidian and ceremonial ways, and for many different moments that it's nearly impossible to navigate life without the fruit. 

Although the name of the fruit is derived from the Arabic word for finger, the story of the banana's dispersal around the world begins in India. The fruit originated in the hilly regions of the country, which are like a tropical rainforest. Reddy explains that most Indians grow up eating several varieties, but bananas are so plentiful there that she is still surprised by her encounters with them.