The home state of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat, renamed the dragon fruit because of the original name’s “association with China” and this has set off a bunch of jokes and memes on the internet.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the fruit would now be called kamalam, Sanskrit for the lotus flower.
The lotus is sacred to Hindus and is India’s national flower.
It is also the election symbol of the party, BJP, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India began cultivating dragon fruit only in recent years and it’s now grown in parts of Gujarat too. It belongs to a family of cactus – and is believed to have earned its fearsome name because its pointy outer layer resembles the scales of a dragon.
Though it’s a tropical fruit native to Central America and is largely imported from South America, many in India associate it with China because of its name.
Rivals India and China are often described as the elephant and the dragon respectively, and relations between the neighbors have been especially frosty since their armies clashed high in the Himalayas in the summer.
Announcing the state’s decision to rename the fruit Mr Rupani said: “The name dragon fruit is not proper, and due to its name one thinks of China. So we have given it the name kamalam.”
Mr Rupani did not elaborate but that was all the inspiration the internet needed.
— Divesh Bhagat (@DiveshBhagat11) January 20, 2021
🇨🇳 – We are going to take your land 👿
🇮🇳 – We are going to rename Dragon fruit 🤓
— Amish Bengan™ 🍆 (@ChottuBnD) January 20, 2021
Khaleesi with Kamalam. pic.twitter.com/sTopPnrQPN
— CS Amudhan (@csamudhan) January 20, 2021
India has a long history of renaming cities and streets from the Mughal and British era, but renaming a fruit is something new now.
Renaming is used to send out a political message, and more often used to trigger social, historic, cultural and political division among people and sometimes humour as well.