When Alexander the great invaded India in 326 B.C., he saw bananas for the first time and was greatly impressed by this delicious fruit. The banana is indigenous to the warm, moist parts of North-Eastern India, Burma and other South-East Asian countries. From here it has spread to other parts of the world and has become one of the most important commercial crops in tropical areas.
        Almost every part of the banana plant is useful. Ripe bananas are eaten as fruit. Unripe bananas, the inner core of the stem and the cluster of flowers are used as a vegetable. In many parts of India food is served on banana leaves instead of on plates. In fact bananas are cultivated over large areas exclusively for this purpose. Some species of banana also yield fibre and this is used for making ropes and coarse fabrics in the Philippines and Japan.
       After a banana plant has borne fruit it withers and another one grows right next to it rising from the underground stem called the sucker. This process continues for many years. Above the ground the plant has a false stem composed of sheaths of leaves.
       Hindus consider the banana plant to be auspicious and during religious ceremonies and festivals the stem and leaves are used to decorate the "mandap" or place of worship.



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