Assam is a state in North eastern India that is inhabited by different tribes and every tribe has its specific rituals, religious norms and festivals. That explains why you will find some festival or event is taking place in the state no matter when you visit it! However, there are some specific events that are not restricted to any religion as such. One example is the Jonbeel mela.
History of Jonbeel mela
The origin of Jonbeel Mela in Assam can be traced back to the 15th Century. The legendary Ahom monarchs ruled the state then. The uniqueness of this festival is the ancient era barter system practiced here. Monetary exchanges do not take place. This is a 3 day festival that takes place about 30 km from capital city Guwahati. Its duration coincides with Magh Bihu. The location is called Dayang Belguri.
Related: Assam’s Glorious Cultural Heritage
Nuances of Jonbeel Mela
The naming of Jonbeel mela is related to a lake adjacent to the place where it is held. The water body has shape of crescent moon. Certain rituals are associated with the mela. Before it starts, the tribes perform Agni Puja. The tribes living in adjoining areas come and exchange their commodities at this mela. This annual fair is organized mostly by the Tiwas community.
Related: Famous Festivals of North East
A wide range of items are brought by tribal’s attending the fair for exchange. Examples include spices, herbs, fruits, rice, cakes, dried fish etc. Those attending the fair usually stay in makeshift bamboo huts for the three days. The tribes living in the hills and plains exchange stuffs that they cannot grow in their respective regions. Some tribes from Meghalaya also come to the fair.
The event is deemed as an important occasion to celebrate spirit of brotherhood and harmony. Apart from exchanging the items, the tribes indulge in performing their traditional music and dances. They also arrange for cock fights.
Related: Bathow Puja in Assam
While the annual fair has a charm and uniqueness, with time decadence has set in. Nowadays, traditional traders also join the event and stuffs like entertainment shows and typical food stalls are seen in the ground during the fair.