Guwahati, January 19, 2019:
The historic three-day annual Jonbeel Mela cultural fest has begun in Assam’s Morigaon district, 32 kms from Guwahati. The fair begins on the first Thursday after Magh Bihu every year.
The event has been held since 15th century AD in the state at a historic place called Dayang Belguri at Jonbeel. The Jonbeel (‘Jon’ means moon and ‘beel’ means lake) is thus called because the fair grounds are located next to a large crescent moon shaped water body.
What makes the fair unique, you might ask? Well, the jonbeel mela still functions on the barter system. People exchange goods, socialize for a few days and then depart for their respective villages.
It was initially held by the Tiwa, one of the Tibeto-Burmese tribes of Assam, to discuss political affairs.
But despite holding on to the age-old custom, hints of change are palpable in the mela as shops selling factory made goods have come up in and around the grounds. Motorcycle stunt shows have also been introduced in recent years.