Virat, Shikhar are now aam: Cricket fever grips mango growers back home
It’s the 31st year when mango growers from across the country will gather under one roof with their choicest produce, to compete for the top slots that offer cash prizes to the best mango varieties. But, it’s the first time ever that they have let the cricket fever take over them, and named some of the new varieties of mangoes after Indian cricketers. Well, looks like the World Cup fever has caught on.
So, when you visit this year’s Mango Festival at Dilli Haat, Janak Puri, that begins July 5, you will be able to taste Virat Kohli, ahem, the mango called Virat Kohli. In the past years, some varieties of mangoes have been named Yogi aam and Modi aam.
Tariq Mustafa, a mango grower from UP’s Muzaffarnagar, says, “I’ve been participating in this festival for about 16-17 years, and every year bring around 300 varieties of mangoes. Every time we grow a new mango, we look for an appropriate name for it, and this time we have got a variety that we have named after cricketer Virat Kohli. This Virat mango is a bit whitish in colour, has a length of more than six inches, and in taste we feel that it’s as powerful as the sixers of the Indian captain!”
Another mango grower, Ramveer Singh Chauhan, from Saharanpur, UP, says he plans to name a mango after Shikhar Dhawan. “When people come to the mango festival this year, they will see Shikhar Aam, which will showcase the strength and endurance of the cricketer’s performance in this World Cup... I have also named a new variety of mango after Shaheed Udham Singh, and strongly feel that like he avenged Jallianwala Bagh massacre by assassinating General Dwyer in England, this mango will make everyone speechless in England.”
The organisers of the festival validate that it’s the first time that cricket fever has gripped the mango growers. “Over the years, the Mango Festival has become one of the most-awaited events of the season. It will have around 500 varieties on display. Some fun-filled activities including a mango-eating competition is lined up for this three-day event. Mango growers also put their best foot forward to showcase the different varieties by giving some interesting names to their fresh produce through this platform. As the World Cup fever grips India, the growers are dedicating this year’s new variety to famous Indian cricketers, which should create interest among the mango lovers,” says Sudhir Sobti, chief manager, PR and events, Delhi Tourism.
And then there are fans of Sachin Tendulkar. One of them is Shadab Ali from Malihabad, UP. He says, “Ek Sachin hi tha jisse sab ghabrate the kyunki kisi ko nahi pata tha ki voh aake match ka rukh kis taraf mod de (Sachin was a one-of-its-kind game changer who intimidated everyone, every time he came to play). But, if India wins the ICC World Cup this year then I will grow a new mango plant in their name since we research and work for development of this fruit in our nursery.”
Mustafa — who used to play cricket in his college team — has been closely following the world cup, and says with conviction, “World Cup toh is saal humara hi hai. Bas wahan England mein rakha hua hai aur utha ke lana hai (The World Cup this year is ours, and just kept in England. We have to go and fetch it)!” Other mango growers are also excited about the matches ahead, and are hopeful of India’s victory. Meanwhile, which Indian cricketer you think deserves a mango in his name?
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