21 January, 2021
9 Min Read
The Gujarat government has decided to rename the dragon fruit as ‘kamalam’, and comments have flooded the Internet and social media platforms. According to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the fruit’s outer shape resembles a lotus, which is also the election symbol of the BJP.
“We have applied for a patent of the dragon fruit to be called ‘kamalam’, Mr Rupani said at the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission, a scheme to promote horticulture in unproductive land parcels.
Farmers in Kutch, Navsari and other parts were growing the fruit and it should, therefore, have a local name too. “Though it is known as dragon fruit, it does not sound appropriate. The word ‘kamalam’ is a Sanskrit word and the shape of the fruit does resemble the lotus flower,” he said, adding that the renaming had nothing political about it.
What is a Dragonfruit?
Dragon fruit is the fruit of a species of wild cactus indigenous to South and Central America, where it is called pitaya or pitahaya. The fruit’s flesh is usually white or red — although there is a less common yellow pitaya too — and is studded with tiny seeds rather like the kiwifruit.
The world’s largest producer and exporter of dragon fruit is Vietnam, where the plant was brought by the French in the 19th century. The Vietnamese call it thanh long, which translates to “dragon’s eyes”, believed to be the origin of its common English name.
Dragon fruit is also cultivated in — apart from its native Latin America — Thailand, Taiwan, China, Australia, Israel, and Sri Lanka. It was brought to India in the 1990s and is grown in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It grows in all kinds of soil and does not require much water.
Kamalam is also the name of the BJP headquarters in Koba in Gandhinagar, and the kamal — lotus — is the BJP’s election symbol. Rupani, however, said no politics was involved in the renaming. “Gujarat government has decided that dragon fruit is not a suitable word. Across the world, it is known as dragon fruit and one thinks of China. So we have given the name Kamalam. It is a fruit like a lotus,” he said.
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