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Turkmenistan Festivities Mark Annual 'Melon Day'

Turkmen women cut melons as they cook a sweet national dish during Melon Day celebrations in Ashgabat. (file photo)
Turkmenistan is celebrating a national holiday on August known as "Melon Day."

Since 1994, the second Sunday of August has been an official holiday recognizing the importance of melons in Turkmenistan's culture and history.

Multiple fairs and market venues lure guests with displays of golden melons, inviting them to taste melons grown in Turkmenistan’s different regions.

Awards also are being presented on August 11 for different melon-related competitions in towns and cities across the country.

Festivities in Ashgabat on include concerts in parks and public squares.

Turkmenistan’s melons have been praised for centuries by writers familiar with the crop -- including medieval Arab traveler Ibn Battutah and Mughal Empire founder Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur.

Local melon growers say 400 of the world’s 1,600 melon varieties have historical links to Turkmenistan.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti