Summer lingers under the canopies of tall mango trees as a whiff of nostalgia fills the air on a Sunday morning. In June, the peak of Chennai’s mango season, Hanu Reddy Farms in Guduvanchery welcomes visitors for the 2023 edition of The Great Mango Festival. As dawn breaks, you can hear laughter as children begin to clamber up trees to reach for mangoes hanging from branches, reminiscent of their parents’ halcyon childhoods. Across the 60-year-old farm, over 900 people eager to escape the city gathered to celebrate India’s beloved fruit with activities tailored for all ages.
“I want people to come and explore the culture of the mangoes of India,” says Hanu Reddy, the founder of Hanu Reddy Mango Tourism. “People get so passionate about mangoes, whether it’s stories of your childhood, conversations on whose backyard has the best mangoes, or how Alphonso is better than Langda… it’s a legacy that goes back for thousands of years.” This legacy inspired the third edition of the Great Mango Festival.
The king of fruits was celebrated in all its forms. Families got to choose from the farm’s variety of Banganapalle, Javadhu, Sindhura, and many more. Visitors enjoyed an extensive mango-themed breakfast buffet whose highlight was the mango-masala dosa t. People also geared up to devour mangoes in a much-awaited mango-eating competition as fellow enthusiasts cheered them on to break records . A culinary workshop led by chef Shri Bala taught recipes that incorporate mango flavours in the everyday Indian kitchen.
Reviving Indian Tradition
The festival attendees immersed themselves in traditional farm life and other uniquely Indian experiences. Children and adults flocked around the traditional games, which included pallanguzhi and bambaram, and a life-sized game of snakes and ladders, complete with old-school cuboid dice. Rukmini Radhakrishnan of Kreeda Games, in charge of the stations, said that she had seen a rise in interest in these games over the past three years of the festival. “. “We’re very happy to contribute to the revitalisation of Indian tradition,” said Kreeda.
The festival was also a refreshing break from the busy metropolis. The festival attendees received a first-hand experience of Indian village life, from sowing to milling, de-husking paddy, and learning how to plant and harvest mangoes. People frequented stalls exhibiting and selling organic Indian fertilisers and pottery making counters. The block-printing station was one of the most sought-after activities, as participants could take home the tote bags and notebooks they embellished. However, the most popular event of the day was a performance of Parai Attam, during which the audience enthusiastically cheered on . As attendee Ashwathy Nair put it: “It’s such a fascinating thing, being able to celebrate the thing we all have in common: mangoes. At its core, I think it’s such a lovely way to come together on a Sunday morning.”
The Great Mango Festival will be held on June 18 & 25 at Hanu Reddy Farms in Guduvanchery. Tickets are priced at ₹1,899 for adults and ₹1,499 for children. Visitors are expected to pay for the mangoes they pick. Call 9962755823 for details or book on hanureddymangotourism.com.