Colour your weekend green and red by heading to a watermelon fest in Wada
Summer's here. So is our craving for all things fruity. And to quench this thirst and keep us from asking for more, there's nothing like an overdose
Summer's here. So is our craving for all things fruity. And to quench this thirst and keep us from asking for more, there's nothing like an overdose. Take, for instance, a festival themed around watermelon or mango. Even though the latter is our state tree, nothing beats a good glass of chilled watermelon juice.
The watermelon farm at Wada
"There are so many festivals based on fruits, such as mango and sapodilla (chikoo). But during this time of the year, large quantities of watermelon are produced. This is the season of the watermelon. Since our events are based on agro tourism, we thought of taking people straight to the heart of it all, show them how it's done and have some fun in the process," says Vishal Budhavalekar of Shivar Agro Tourism, organisers of the upcoming day-long festival.
Visitors from the February trip
Last February, a group of 42 Mumbaikars travelled all the way to a farm in Wada to learn about the process. "So usually, people gather at our office early in the morning where we serve them breakfast and tea. We then go the farm, which is barely a couple of kilometres from here. We explore the farm together and provide basic information about farming to the visitors. They also get a chance to do some hands-on farming," Budhavalekar explains.
Prepping for a watermelon-eating game
The most interesting part of the entire getaway is the lunch, he says. "The food is prepared on chulha by our team members who are all from the village. We serve bhakri, drumstick gravy, dal and rice. There's also a local touch with appe, turicha shenga and kharvadya, among others. In the dessert section, we have a lot of sweets but the main attraction of the day is definitely the watermelon ice cream."
Post lunch, if you're too full, there's always the fun watermelon games to keep you on your toes and unlimited watermelons to keep you happy. For those interested in keeping their social media accounts colourful and updated, there's the selfie point. After the long trail, sip on refreshing chai and piping hot batata vada as you soak in the sounds of the tarpa, a folk dance that villagers will perform for you.
On: March 11, 6 am onwards meeting point Pritam Hotel, Dadar; pick-ups at Andheri East, Borivali East, Mira-Bhayandar East.
Log on to: goo.gl/FkmDgx
Cost: Rs.1,350 per person excluding transport; Rs.1,750 per person including transport
<< Not only does watermelon quench your thirst, it can also prevent inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis.
<< Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide.
<< It is an ideal health food because it doesn't contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fibre and vitamins A and C, and is a good source of potassium.
<< Pink watermelon is also a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene. These antioxidants travel through the body, neutralising free radicals.
<< Watermelon is a vegetable! It is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
<< Early explorers used the hollowed-out rinds of watermelons as water containers.
<< It is grown in over 96 countries worldwide.
<< In China and Japan, watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.
<< In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.
<< Every part of a watermelon is edible, including the seeds and rinds.
Vikram Doctor, food writer
'It's a sellers' boon'
I may be wrong but I think parts of the Deccan near Mumbai are good for growing watermelon. They need heat, but not humidity, and cool nights but not too cold, and that's what you get up in the Deccan. And the seasonally dry river beds give the ideal well-drained sandy soil to grow them. Also, I think they're well suited to being sold in cities. You haveâÂÂÂÂÂÂplaces like this pavement in Santacruz East, which has a huge, neatly stacked wall of watermelons with just a few split to show the pink inside. It's almost impossible to walk past and not want to buy some, no matter how high the price is.