Lao Folktales : The Mango Tree
Mango with Coconut Rice Dessert
The Mango Tree
There once was a beautiful mango tree that grew in the jungle near a village. Each and every year when its fruit was in season, the children from the village would run into the jungle and harvest its delicious fruit.
However, one particular day when the children went to the tree, they were surprised to find a fence encircling the popular tree. Inside the perimeter of the fence were two mean looking dogs that watched warily their every move. A stranger who the children had not seen before came out of the jungle and approached them.
“Get out of here!” the stranger shouted loudly. “This tree belongs to me now!”
“No it doesn't!” The children cried. “You don’t own the jungle! This tree belongs to everyone. Anyone can pick fruit from this tree!”
The children were right. They were telling the truth but the stranger paid no attention to them. He made his dogs chase the children who retreated back to the village from whence they came. Upon returning, the children went immediately to the village headman. They told him about the stranger and about what happened. The village headman was very wise and very clever. After some time, he came up with an idea.
The next day, one of the girls from the village went to the mango tree again. She threw two morsels of meat to the dogs and climbed over the fence. She then took a mango from the tree and began eating. Again, the stranger ran over from the jungle and into the clearing.
“Stop!” He shouted. “You cannot take my mangoes! Go away!”
Ignoring the stranger, the girl took another bite from the mango. Suddenly she screamed out loud and fell to the ground and lay still. At that moment, the headman came by and walked up to the stranger.
“What have you done to this poor girl?” The headman asked him.
“Nothing!” The stranger replied. “She took one of my mangoes and fell to the ground."
The headman knelt before the girl and felt her forehead. “I’m afraid she has mango sickness,” the headman said shaking his head. “You see, once every ten years, poisonous mangoes will grow from this tree…You must not eat any mangoes from this tree this year.” The headman then picked up the girl and carried her back to the village.
The next morning, the children from the village followed the headman into the jungle to the mango tree. Looking around, they saw that the stranger was gone and took with him the fence along with his two fearsome dogs. Once again, the children began climbing up the mango tree to harvest its delicious fruit. When they returned to their village, the children laughed and sang songs in their happiness while carrying their mangoes. They shared their bounty with everyone.
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Fun and Useful Facts About Mangoes
- Mangoes make up about half of the world's most produced tropical fruit
- Over 23 million tons of mangoes are produced annually according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2001
- India is the world's largest producer of mangoes, producing over 12 million tons annually or about one-half of the world's supply of mangoes
- Categorized as a drupe fruit, mangoes have fleshy skin that surrounds a callous endocarp and pit that houses a seed
- In Chinese medical practices, mangoes are used to treat dysentery
- Other notable drupe fruit include olives, plums, peaches, pistachios, nectarines, cherries, coconut, coffee and dates
- Mangoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C and are a rich source of potassium and and iron
- Mangoes have been known to be used as contraceptives
- Mango trees can grow up to 60 feet tall
- Orangutans love mango
- Buddha was given a mango grove as a gift
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