Forget e-wallets, the Jonbeel mela in Assam still practices barter system

Culture, as we all know, is the way of life of a particular region. Talking about the Indian culture, or its various sub-forms, there is no denying the fact that it is a nation which is an amalgamation of various cultures – each region having its own unique and rich identity.

Sitting in front of my computer, the rich culture debate mesmerized me and has, in fact, inspired me to pen down about a certain unique age-old tradition which is still being followed at Jagiroad in Assam. India is identified with a history of commercial and cultural wealth. So, what is this specialty about Jagiroad? When we peep into our day-to-day life, almost everything is related to technology. So, do you think in this age of technology a primitive culture might be alive? Yes, it is – in the form of a spectacular fair (mela) called Jonbeel, held every year during the winters in Jagiroad, a lesser known township only around 55 kms from Guwahati.

People take part at Jonbeel mela in Assam

But how is this mela different from any other fairs in India? The forte of this fair is the high-tech barter system that still prevails. Yes, at a time when the country is pushing for digital economy packed with credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets and internet banking; in this mela transactions are done through the barter system which is very rare in today’s society and perhaps is one of the few places in India where this tradition is still alive. A three-day community fair, the mela is organized at the historic place of Dayang Belguri in Jonbeel.

During the mela, a huge bazaar is organised where tribes like the Tiwas, Karbis, Khasis, Jaintias from the Meghalaya hills come down with their various products and exchange it with the locals through the barter system. Not only this, there is this Gova King who visits the mela along with his courtiers and collects taxes from his subjects. With traditional dance and music and lots of merriment, this Jonbeel mela holds a very significant position in today’s society for carrying the age old tradition which is said to have begun not later than the 15th century AD.

At a time when we are so much influenced by the western culture and there is development all around us, still, there is this unknown town in this part of the world where people did not let an age-old culture die owing to the advancement of technology. This is indeed commendable. This fair not only signifies socio-cultural unity but at the same time act as refreshment to our monotonous routines. People come in packs and takes part in the three-day community fair. The mela has its own charm and should be promoted to the rest of India because of its unique characteristics.

Cock fight at Jonbeel mela in Assam

Image Credits: The News Mill.

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