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Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Delhi festival celebrates Indian mango
The festival elevates the fruit to an art form
India is the world's largest producer of the mango

At least 300 varieties of mangoes are on display at a mango festival in the Indian capital Delhi, aimed at highlighting the luscious fruit as a culinary delight at home and abroad.

A section of the exhibition
More than 300 varieties are on show

A sight that cheers people during the summer in India is cartloads of ripe mangoes. But mango lovers now have a wider choice.

Treated as more than a fruit around the world and certainly in India, it is revered as a royal heritage.

India is the largest producer of mangoes in the world and accounts for nearly 50% of the world production of the fruit.

The ripe mango is savoured in India as a dessert, as a table fruit between meals and is also processed for preparing juices, pulps, squashes, nectars and jams.

Hundreds of people thronged the exhibition on Saturday to have a glimpse of, if not taste, the many varieties of the fruit on display at this two-day festival.

Gourmet recipes

The festival, however, has more than just an epicurean motive. The organisers are aiming at commercial targets at home and abroad.

A mango-based course at the festival diner
Mangoes are becoming a culinary delight

A senior officer of the Delhi tourism department, Suman Sharma, said ,"The festival will not only create awareness among the Indian people about the latest on mangoes but is also an opportunity for mango growers, exporters and government agencies to interact together."

The mangoes on display include Alphonso and Kesar from western India, Banganpalli, Totapuri and Neelam from the southern reaches of the country, Fazli from eastern states and Langra and Chausa from northern India.

The major mango producing states include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Mr Sharma told the BBC that in addition to the display of different varieties of mangoes, there are master chefs from different hotels here who have prepared many special dishes with mango.

These are being made available for the delectation of Indian and foreign visitors.

Mr Sharma said the festival will also include a mango cartoon and quiz contest to attract younger patrons.

A love affair

The organisers say there will be a mango-eating contest in which prizes will be given to the winners who eat the largest number of mangoes within a certain amount of time.

Three mangoes
Mangoes symbolise the joy of life

Anthony - an American tourist savouring the exhibits- said he found the concept of this festival interesting. "Its like a meeting between the different varieties of mangoes," he said.

Some visitors found the culinary preparations - unusual in a country where the fruit is primarily eaten uncooked - interesting.

India exports about 40,000 metric tonnes of mangoes to 80 countries and the annual revenue earned from exporting mangoes and mango products reaches $85 million.

Festival organisers hope the event will help to raise these figures significantly.

Hindu mythology in India gives the mango an aura of mystique as a symbol of the joy of life. Yummy is the word, and people just love it.

See also:

06 Dec 01 | South Asia
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