Assam: Annual Jonbeel Mela, where money is forbidden, begins


GUWAHATI, Jan 16: Jonbeel Mela, the three-day fair held annually after Bhogali Bihu at Dayang Belguri on the banks of Jonbeel near Jagiroad in Morigaon district, got under way today.

It’s perhaps the only fair where currency is banned, almost, and the old-age practice of bartering things still exists. 

For three days, the fair venue becomes chock-a-block with people. From trading in the age-old barter system — the sine qua non of the fair — to the bonding it knots between various tribes and communities, Jonbeel Mela has its own special significance among the locales.

Rural folks descending from the nearby hillocks exchange their produce comprising ginger, turmeric, potatoes, arum, chilies and other herbs with whatever people from the plains have to offer.

Organized under the patronage of the Gobha kingdom since 15th Century, the titular Gobha king still oversees the arrangements for the fair and conducts a “durbar” on the concluding day of the event.

“People from villages bring different types of local rice, lac (collected from insects in the jungle), pumpkin, wax gourd, sponge gourd, yam, pomelo (a type of citrus fruit), wild banana flowers, raw pepper, dried fish, baskets and other items made of bamboo, and traditional hand-woven apparel. Items like ginger, pepper and turmeric may seem common, but these are mostly the wild varieties—almost everything at the fair is plucked from nature or handmade,” an organizer said. 

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is likely to attend the event on the concluding day on Jan 18.