By Mudassir Raja
Mango is often referred to as the king of all fruits. The sweet and juicy fruit from Pakistan is a delicacy for the community in Qatar as they enjoy the fresh arrival and share it with others as a gift. Mango season – June to August – is celebrated like a festival in Pakistan where special gatherings are arranged to eat only mangoes.
Keeping with its tradition of arranging fresh and juicy mangoes from Pakistan, Sohni Dharti Qatar recently organised a one day ‘Mango Festival’ at Al Khor community. Thousands of people thronged the community hall where the fresh arrival from Pakistan was available.
People from different communities, along with their families, visited the community hall where other stalls were also set up to present different edible items, cuisines, and clothes from Pakistan. The second major attraction of the festival was sweet and cold kulfi at the stall of Soghaat Sweets & Bakers. The kulfi was enjoyed by the children and women the most.
“Sohni Dharti Mango Festival has become an identity of the Pakistani community in Qatar. We organise the festival every year. We bring fresh and the best mangoes from Multan and Rahim Yar Khan. The taste and smell of the mangoes is unmatched,” said Anwar Ali Rana, Chairman of Sohni Dharti, while talking to Community.
“We have been organising the festival for 11 years and people from all corners of Qatar attend the event. Expatriates from many communities attend the festival and enjoy the king of fruits. Further, we also invite Pakistani cuisine and cloth outlets to the festival. We want to introduce different aspects and colours of Pakistan. Actually, Sohni Dharti started the festival to promote the Pakistani culture. The festival has become one of the major community events in Qatar in last four to five years,” he noted.
When asked about the quality of the mango, Rana said, “We introduce all varieties of mango from Pakistan. However, the visitors mainly like Chaunsa, Anwar Ratol and Sindhri. People keep asking me when we are going to arrange the mango festival again. We have been trying to maintain the quality of the festival.”
About other activities of the community organisation, Rana said, “Besides the mango festival, every year we organise Spring Festival for mandarin (orange). We import best quality oranges from Sargodha. We also bring fresh carrots and other vegetables. We also arrange Eid bazaar before the festival. The community also celebrates Independence Day and Pakistan Day every year. Sohni Dharti also organises sport activities, including cricket and volleyball. We have Islamic, Urdu, and science clubs for children.”
He added that the festival also included the stalls of restaurants namely, Pistachio, Zaoq and Shezan, and food outlets like Pak Pakwan, Sufi and Islamabad Capital Smart City. Different designs of Pakistani jewellery and clothes were also on display.
Saleem Akbar, who works with Qatargas, is an active member of Sohni Dharti. He said, “We invite all communities to Al Khor for the festival to enjoy the mangoes. People wait for the festival and they ask for the mangoes in advance.”
Muhammad Tariq, who works at Qatar Petrochemical Company, has come to the festival from Al Wukair. He said, “It is for the first time that I have come to the festival. I am here with my family to enjoy the mangoes. We are here to get fresh mangoes. I have been living in Qatar for nine years and enjoy my life in the country. It is good to see the Pakistani products in Qatar.”
Ijaz Ahmed, who runs Soghaat Sweets & Bakers and was attending the visitors at his stall, said, “We offer authentic Pakistani sweets, bakery items, kulfi, dahi baray, samosa,and jalebi. It is for the first time we are in the festival. We’re getting a great response. It is a get-together occasion. I worked in another Gulf country for
25 years before coming to Qatar. I like Qatar and appreciate how the country has countered the blockade. The people are friendly, supportive and friendly here.”
Shabana Najeeb, who had a stall for Pakistani clothes, said “I have been in Qatar for 20 years. I have always enjoyed attending the festival. We are thankful to Sohni Dharti for arranging community events regularly. I have have been dealing in Pakistani clothes for 16 years. I have been enjoying my life in Qatar. It is a very peaceful country and we believe Qatar will successfully see off the siege.”
Malik Mudasir, who arranged one of the two main stalls for mangoes, said, “The response in the festival is awesome. We have been importing manges from Pakistan for many years. We are known for bringing fresh mangoes in Qatar.”
“The blockade has, in fact, led to an increase in trade between Pakistan and Qatar,” he concluded.
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