Mad About Mangoes?

DELHI: The annual International Mango Festival in Delhi gives you an opportunity to sample rare and unheard of varieties of mangoes.

Have you seen a mango as large a pineapple or as small as a lemon? As pink as melons or purple as eggplants? These are among the 500 or so varieties on display at the International Mango Festival, an annual event to celebrate the delicious fruit.

Mango festival
A performer at the festival. Photo: Syed Saad Ahmed

The most tempting – and frustrating – part of the festival is the mango exhibition. Tempting because there are about 500 varieties, each with a luscious appearance and characteristic sweet smell that perfumes the hall. Many have quirky names – Rajiv Gandhi (because it’s as good looking as the former Prime Minister!), Husnara (a beauty which seems to be blushing), Sensation, Naghma Pasand (apparently a favourite of some dame named Naghma) and Aab-e-Hayaat (water of life), among others. The exhibition is frustrating because the mangoes are just for display and you are bound to walk out of the hall feeling unbearably ravenous.

Mango-eating contest
Mango-eating contest

But you don’t go to the festival just to gawk at mangoes. Fortunately, you can buy some of the varieties housed in the exhibition. Orchard owners, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, set up stalls and offer mangoes that you have probably never seen at your neighbourhood grocer. Then, there are mango-eating contests (100 hai daam, jitne bhi khao aam!), recipe demonstrations, street plays, magic shows, concerts and dance performances. You can also buy mango products – pickles, milkshakes, candies, murabba (fruit preserve) and aam papad – at the stalls here.

Asmita theatre group
A street play by Asmita theatre group. Photo: Syed Saad Ahmed

Good to Know

  1. When: 3-day festival in June/ July
  2. Where: Usually held in one of the Dilli Haats. In 2017, the venue was Janakpuri.