assam
By: Himashree Deka
Edited By: Rana Pratap Saikia

As the Bhogali Bihu fever has gripped Assam, the markets across the State, especially Guwahati’s iconic “big fish market” at the Uzan Bazar ghaat, has witnessed moderate footfall as Guwahatians have splurged big in the lead up to the grand feasts being organized in every home.

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The fish market attracts fish-sellers from disparate locations across Assam, looking to make a quick buck on the day that the prices of the scaly delicacies reach sky-high due to high demand.

The vendors on this particular day reached Uzan Bazar market in the wee hours to get a spot to sit in the market which is adjacent to the mighty Brahmaputa. The vendors revealed to us that they have arrived from as far away as from Mangaldoi, Sualkuchi, Mukalmuwa, Nagaon, Nalbari.

However, this year, the enthusiasm of the sellers has not been reciprocated by the buyers, as the markets have seen a great decline in the quantity of fish being moved. The vendors feel that the rush is not the same as a simmering resentment against the Government’s decision to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, with a series of protests being lined up by indigenous organizations in the ensuing days.

Talking to us, a senior resident of Uzan Bazar, who has been visiting the market since the days of his youth, said, “Manuhok ji maar marise sorkare kinu phurti koribo. Poisa u nai Mon u nai manuhor.” (The Government has clubbed the people, why would they celebrate? No money is there, neither there is spirit). The senior citizen further observed that the ghaat at Uzabazar has never felt so empty on the occasion of Bihu before.

Upper Assam artiste Bipin Chowdang, vocal in his opposition to the BJP-enacted legislation, made an appeal to the people to stay united during Bihu despite the tensions that prevail. “We have been moving across the State to protect the jaati (nationhood). However, Bhogali Bihu is upon us, and I urge the people to stay united in these times of strife” Chowdang said, before breaking into a Bihu song.

Meanwhile, in Guwahati the vendors have expressed that the sell this year is less due to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. However, there is no death of good fish despite the low spirits — a walk through the bustling bazaar reveals fish weighing upto eighteen kilos (!), costing upto Rs 1,400 per kilo.

For the curious minds, fish varieties such as ‘Borali’, ‘Bhokua’, ‘Chitol’, ‘Rou’, ‘Ari’, etc are commonplace in this market. Chitol fish costs around Rs 550-Rs 650 per kg, while Ari fish cost Rs 800-1000 per kg while Bhokua fish has been priced Rs 500-600 per kg.

On the other hand, the market also had ducks, pigeons, and vegetables, that the Assamese people are likely to cook into delicious stews later in the day, while bonfires blaze, glasses clink, and melodious Bihu songs play in the family’s stereo.

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