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NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of people attended the annual mango festival in New Delhi over the weekend to see and taste hundreds of varieties of the fruit from across India.

The South Asian country grows more than 1,500 varieties of mangoes, making it the world’s largest producer of mangoes, as it accounts for about half of the fruit’s global production.

In India’s capital, farmers and vendors from across the country gathered to showcase more than 500 varieties of mangoes to fruit lovers and curious visitors as part of the city’s three-day festival that ended on Sunday.

“People love this and look forward to it every year… This show hosts the largest number of mango varieties,” Maniksha Bakshi, public relations manager of festival organizer Delhi Tourism, told Arab News.

“Apart from private farmers, a number of agricultural universities and government organizations have participated and exhibited their hybrid varieties… The variety of mangoes exhibited has increased. People came from Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and different parts of the country.”

At the 33rd edition of the festival this year, Delhi Tourism also organized side events to attract more visitors, including special sessions called “master classes” involving chefs making dishes based on of mangoes.

Organizers said they expected around 30,000 people to attend, making it an opportunity for farmers to showcase their wide range of products.

“I want to exhibit my variety of mangoes at the festival,” said mango farmer Azmi Rizvi, who is from Sitapur town.

“In my mango orchard, there are at least 120 to 130 varieties. Besides that, sweet mangoes and pickled mangoes are also there.”

Teppei Yamashita, a Japanese citizen, was surprised to discover the variety of mangoes at the event.

“I never knew there were so many types of mangoes. I thought it was a joke. My staff was telling me (about) hundreds and hundreds of types of mangoes, and now I have witnessed it as a fact,” he said.

Some Indians also participated out of curiosity about the different varieties of mangoes, as many are not commonly found in the markets of the capital.

“The kind of mangoes we see here, we don’t generally see them in the market… Most of them we have never heard the name of… so it’s a wonderful experience to be here,” said visitor Gaurav Narang.

For Vikash Singh, who has attended the mango festival over the years, the wide range of options was the main attraction of the event.

“The reason you come here is that in one place you can see … varieties of mangoes — all different colors, different flesh, different shapes, different sizes,” Singh said. “It’s a lot of fun here because you get to taste the mangoes. You can also buy mangoes (and).”

The festival also attracted mango enthusiasts like Rumi Garg, who was among those who took part in a mango eating competition.

“I had to participate in the contest. I am an avid mango lover and love all mango products – mango cakes, mango shakes and all those mango puddings. I finished everything, hoping to win the competition,” he said.

Dr AK Singh, a professor at Pantnagar University in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, said he has been going to the festival for more than a decade.

“We (India) are leaders in mango production,” Singh said. “We have been participating in this mango festival for the last 16 years and the public response is very good. They are very interested.”

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