Pacific Naturopathic - Mountain View, California
Natural Health Articles by Drs. Connie and Marcel Hernandez

Going Mai'a In Hawaii

Pretend you don't know what the word 'mai'a' means and ponder these two questions:
What is the fruit that got Adam and Eve into so much trouble? and What is the most popular fruit in the United States? Most people would answer 'apple.' But as you are most likely in Hawaii at as you read these words there is a chance that you know that 'mai'a' is the Hawaiian word for banana.

The answer to the first question is that according to Hindu legend, it was a banana, not an apple, that got our earliest ancestors kicked out of our true Spiritual homes. Thus, we are doomed while in mortal form to strive for the higher consciousness that was ours to begin with. All because of a banana.

As for the second question, bananas far outdistance apples as the most popular fruit in the United States. In fact, Americans eat about 11.5 billion bananas a year. Don't ask me who did the math for that one. The banana is also the most popular fruit in Europe, Japan and Canada.

The largest exporters of bananas are Ecuador, Costa Rica, Columbia, the Philippines, Honduras and Panama (in that order). However, exported bananas are only 15 percent of total world production. The rest of the bananas are consumed locally as a staple food, and are eaten raw or cooked in ethnic cuisines around the world.

Human association with the banana plant goes back thousands of years. The plant played a significant part in ancient Hawaiian culture and traditions. The banana was considered the fruit of the gods and was a delicacy to the ancient Hawaiians. It was also considered bad luck to dream of bananas. Until the early 1800's, all but two varieties were kapu (forbidden) for women to eat. In religious ceremonies the Hawaiians would trick the gods by using the stalk of a banana plant in place of a human for a sacrifice. The leaves were considered sacred enough to sometimes use as a cover for small shrines.

A thought-provoking feature of the banana plant is that each stalk bears only one bunch of bananas, after which it dies. Thus, a Hawaiian saying goes, “man is like a banana the day it bears fruit," meaning that he dies when his work is done. A well-known Hawaiian legend tells that a long, long time ago all bananas bore their fruit on upright stems like the mountain banana. The lowland and the mountain bananas quarreled and fought a terrible war. The lowlanders were defeated, causing them to eternally hang their heads in shame.

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