Mambazham Mania Memories: Mango Thiruvizha 2023 celebrates the king of fruits

In the season of the King of Fruits, Mango Thiruvizha 2023 aims to put mangoes on the global map and raise awareness about the environment 
Photo Credits: Pexels
Photo Credits: Pexels

Often, a whiff of the fragrance of Banganapalli mangoes is all it takes for childhood memories of my older brother climbing the neighbourhood mango tree while I kept watching below to come flooding in. And on Sunday, the nostalgia came knocking when I attended the Mango Thiruvizha 2023 presented by the DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum and Hanu Reddy Mango Tourism in order to celebrate the king of fruits. From a mango-eating competition to a treasure hunt, the festival had multiple fun events for people to participate in.

Also Read: Five interesting ways to add raw mangoes to your diet

The Mango Thiruvizha is held yearly, to create awareness of the current environmental state of India, and to put mangoes on the global map. Nitya Reddy from Hanu Reddy Mango Tourism says, “The idea is, we want to put mango tourism in India on a global bucket. People should fly into our country just to experience everything that mangoes have to offer. You know, even from this small experience itself, whatever we’re curating here is just an iota of what is really out there. Even in our culture, there are so many ways in which mangoes are appreciated, and we want to put that uniqueness up on the international market.” 

Food and fond memories
To start the festival, a mango tree was planted near the Chikmaglur House by the director of DakshinaChitra, Sharath Nambiar, and the members of the Hanu Reddy Mango Tourism Family. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago… The second best time is today. So go ahead, eat that mango in your hands, and plant the seed somewhere to give future generations the same nostalgia we had as children. 

The festival then commenced its first event at 11 am, called Mango Quilt: Mango Trails, a story-weaving competition hosted by Harish, where he entertained the audience with their nostalgic experiences of mangoes and their favourite foods with mangoes in them. Interacting with the audience, Harish aka Hush, managed to capture fond, funny moments of their lives and transformed it into a session filled with light laughs and shared smiles. As an audience member sitting there, I, too, was not spared from sharing a story from my childhood! 

Also Read: Organic Mango Farms In & Around Chennai Battle Climate Change Roadblock

“The number of times that I have stolen a mango from my friend’s tree without getting caught is too many!” said one audience member as he laughingly patted the back of the said friend, while the latter looked at him, face etched with pretend outrage. From stories about stealing mangoes from neighbours, not sharing them with family members to a few sweet memories of grandmothers giving them the flesh of the fruit and eating the seed instead, these strangers laughed together, united in their experiences with mangoes.

The next session, which was originally a cooking competition, was hosted by Akash Muralidharan, a food designer, where he discussed unique mango recipes and shared cooking stories with the audience. From the much-beloved maanga pullissery to different recipes like mango rasam, the audience shared their much-loved recipes with Akash. Despite the sweltering, afternoon sun, Akash managed to create an appetite and a craving with his talk. And for me, personally, a craving for the mango milkshake being served in the canteen nearby began to make my mouth water. 

Cravings and competitions
As if God had heard my prayers to satisfy my mango cravings, the next event announced was the much-awaited mango eating competition, ‘Mambazhama Mambazham’, that was held in the Chettinad House. Open challenges were issued to the public visiting DakshinaChitra, and the public didn’t fail to deliver. Many signed up for the mango-eating competition, determined to break the highest record of 1 minute 4 seconds. At 2.30 pm, the contestants were lined up, with 1 kg of mangoes in front of each of them, and the fastest to eat them all was to be declared the winner. In a flurry of movements, soon each participant was gorging on the delicious mangoes in front of them, much like children who were presented with an endless buffet before them! With the winner of the competition finishing in 2 minutes 35 seconds, he was awarded an additional 3 kg of mangoes by Nitya Reddy. But the most heartwarming aspect of this entire competition was how the other participants continued eating their mangoes even after the competition was over, smiling and slurping the juice that ran down to their elbows and mouths. 

Also Read: Delhi’s tryst with mangoes 

After a feast of mangoes, the next event was the treasure hunt, ‘Mambazham Kandupidippoma?’, which required participants to find seven clues and claim a final prize. While the participants ran off in different directions to hunt down the clues, the rest of the audience had been entertained by the Gajendra Natupurai Kalai Crew, who performed traditional dances like Karagattam, and Thappattam. The winner was announced, and awarded with mangoes by the organiser as the crowd cheered them on. 

The next event was a Tamizh play by The Open House, called ‘Maa(yum) Maaram’. The street play broke the fourth wall and interacted with the audiences surrounding the stage, performing heartwarming antics and entertaining the giggling children. Weaving an alternative story around the famous paati and the crow, the ever-popular figures in our childhood stories, the actors in the play brought in a commentary on the lack of environmentally friendly city planning, and criticised the building of new expressways that would destroy tens of thousands of trees. One of the actors on stage said, “For every 49 km of laying roads, 7,000 trees have to be cut. Just imagine the amount of trees that have to be cut in order to build an expressway that goes across the country!”. The Open House, using simple language and funny expressions, conveyed a beautiful and serious message about conserving the environment to the audience, creating a conversation about the importance of conserving the planet. 

The festival then moved to the amphitheatre, where folk dances and performances took place. According to Mukil, a member of the organising team for the festival, “The performances were performed by groups in Chennai which need to be recognised for their talents. Today, groups supported by the Alternative Media Centre and Kaliswaran will have students from Loyola College performing folk art forms for us.” After a beautiful session with the students and artistes, the performance was then followed by a musical concert by Malavika Sundar. She sang her original song, ‘Aasai Mambazhame’ during the concert, and entertained the audience as they grooved along to her lark-like voice. “If you had noticed, this song was playing throughout the day,” laughs Mukil, “She composed the song along with Reshwin, and the lyrics were written by Vijay Kumar.” 

Also Read: Barbeque Nation is hosting a food festival, Mango Mania, to bid goodbye to the mango season

The concert marked the end of the Mango Thiruvizha 2023! and left the participants wanting more. Not only did it succeed in making us want more, but it also ensured that the people who watched and attended left with new memories associated with our favourite fruit. A beautiful festival, with nostalgia at its core, the Mango Thiruvizha 2023 left us all walking out of DakshinaChitra with a smile on our faces, and a heart filled with joy. 

The Great Mango Festival will also be conducted at Hanu Reddy Raghava Farms on June 11, 18, and 25 from 6 am to 12 pm. For details and registration.


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