POMEGRANATE: A SIGNIFICANT FRUIT RICH IN HISTORY

Fresh Pomegranates

What Are Pomegranates?

The pomegranate is a round fruit, usually with deep-red, thick, hard skin. The fruit has a crown at its top. The skin colour of the fruit ranges from brownish-yellow to orange-red. Inside the thick skin, a large number of edible juicy seeds are present, namely arils.  The arils might be either white or red depending upon the variety and the ripening stage of the fruit. Interestingly, this fruit is botanically classified as a berry. The scientific name of the pomegranate is Punica Granatum and it belongs to the Punicaceae family.

History of its Origin and Cultivation:

The pomegranate, one of the world’s ancient edible fruits, is native to Central Asia from Iran and Turkmenistan to India. It is believed to be one of the first fruits cultivated in the Middle East. Historical records show that the origin of this fruit goes back to the early Bronze age (3rd Millennium BC). Originated in Persia, the cultivation of pomegranates was then spread throughout the Mediterranean region, Afghanistan, China, India and Saudi Arabia.

When Muslim invaders conquered Spain in 711 AD, they introduced pomegranates to Spain. This fruit was then brought to the United States and Latin America by Spanish settlers in the 15th century. Pomegranates are now cultivated in California and Arizona.  But it is largely cultivated in India, Iran and Afghanistan.

Globally, India is the world’s largest producer of pomegranates, followed by Iran, which is the world’s second-largest producer and the first-largest exporter of pomegranates. Moreover, Afghanistan is the producer of the world’s best varieties of pomegranates. Many Botanists believe that Afghanistan is the cradle of pomegranate production. Remarkably, this country has more varieties of pomegranates than any other country in the world. “Kandahari Anar” (jumbo, ruby-red, juicy pomegranate) is the famous variety of pomegranate from the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

In addition to India, Iran and Afghanistan, other pomegranate producing countries include Pakistan, Turkey, Spain, China, Japan, Tunisia, Arabia, California, Arizona, Morocco, France, Greece, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, Italy and Palestine.

Learn about: Mango: History of its Origin

Pomegranate tree bearing fruits

Origin of the Word ‘Pomegranate’:

The fruit pomegranate took its name from the Medieval Latin word “pomum granatum”. ‘Pomum’ means apple and ‘granatum’ means seeded or full of grains. This fruit was known as “the apple of Grenada” in early English, while it is known as “Chinese apple” in British English”. In its native region, Persia, as well as in Afghanistan, pomegranate is known as “Anar”.

Pomegranate’s Significance:

Pomegranate is much more than just an edible fruit – it is a significant part of different cultures, religions and traditional customs. This fruit has been depicted in art and held sacred by many of the world’s religions. For instance, it is mentioned in Hebrew, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and Greek mythology and writings.

ISLAM:

“In both of them (paradise) are fruits and date palms and pomegranates”. (Al-Quran 55:68)

The word pomegranate (‘Rumman’ in Arabic) is mentioned three times in the Holy Book Quran i.e. in chapter # 7 verse: 99, 141 and chapter # 55 verse: 68. The pomegranate has a lot of significance in Islam. For instance, it is considered a fruit of paradise. Some of the authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also mentions the medicinal and spiritual benefits of this sacred fruit.

CHRISTIANITY:

In Christianity, the pomegranate is associated with resurrection and eternal life. Moreover, the abundance of seeds in a single cover of a pomegranate symbolizes the unity of people under one authority i.e. the Church. The word pomegranate is mentioned multiple times in the Bible. Furthermore, in Christian art, the fruit can be found in paintings of the Virgin Mary and the Child.

JUDAISM:

In Jewish tradition, the pomegranate is believed to be comprised of 613 seeds each representing the 613 commandments of the Torah. Based on this belief the fruit is considered a symbol of knowledge, righteousness, and wisdom. Traditionally, pomegranates are eaten on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). Further, the fruit is also used in Jewish decorations as well as is frequently mentioned in Jewish texts.

HINDUISM & BUDDHISM:

The pomegranate is considered a symbol of fertility in the ancient religious texts of Hinduism (the Vedas) as well as in Buddhism. Buddha is often portrayed as holding the three blessed fruits; a pomegranate, a peach and a citron, symbolizing the abundance of sons, years and happiness respectively. Strangely, the seeds of the fruit are also believed to determine the number of children in the wedding traditions of Armenia.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY & ANCIENT EGYPT:

Besides the religious significance, the pomegranate was also mentioned in Greek mythology. Weirdly, the pomegranate was known as “the fruit of the dead”, as it was believed to have arisen from the blood of Adonis (the god of beauty and attraction). Apart from this, the Ancient Egyptians used to bury the pomegranates with their dead to help them in the afterlife. They considered this fruit a symbol of prosperity. There is also an Ancient Egyptian proverb which says: “Eat a pomegranate and visit a bath; your youth will haste back”.

Fresh Pomegranate Arils

Conclusion:

In brief, the pomegranate is one of the oldest fruits in the world. The fruit is native to Central Asia and is widely cultivated in different regions of the world. This fruit has got a lot of significance in different religions, cultures and traditions from all over the world.

Hope you learned something new about this amazing fruit.

 

Reference Links:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/punica

https://nyti.ms/2USKlJg

https://www.sryahwapublications.com/research-journal-of-food-and-nutrition/pdf/v3-i4/3.pdf

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18 Responses

  1. Wow superb I learned more new things about this famous fruit you done great job excellent keep it up 👏👏

  2. GLAD !! GOT TO KNOW MANY INFO ABOUT MY ONE OF FAV FRUITS ! THIS WAS REALLY HELPFUL ! MORE PRAYERS AND LOVE YOUR WAY 💖

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