If you’ve ever swapped one of your toys with a friend in return for one of their toys, you have bartered. Bartering is trading services or goods with another person when there is no money involved. This type of exchange was relied upon by early civilizations. There are even cultures within modern society who still rely on this type of exchange.
Jonbeel Mela is a three-day Tiwa community fair held the weekend of Magh Bihu at a historic place known as Dayang Belguri at Joonbeel. It is 5 km from Jagiroad in Morigaon district of Assam and 32 km from Guwahati. The Joonbeel (Joon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively) is so called because a large natural water body is shaped like a crescent moon.
The mela is said to be begun not later than 15th century AD. It was first organized ago by the Tiwa (Lalung) and Ahom kings to discuss the prevailing political situations. During the occasion a huge bazaar is held. A few days before the mela starts, communities and tribes like Tiwa, Karbi, Khasi, and Jayantia of the northeast come down from the hills with products and interchange their merchandise with the local people in a barter system. It is said to be a hi-tech age barter system and perhaps the only fair in India where barter system is still alive.
Before the mela takes place, an Agni Puja (fire worship) is performed for the well-being of the mankind The mela starts with community fishing in the Joonbeel wetland.
On January 17, 2009 the Government of Assam announced an “Annual Royal Allowance” for the 19 customary kings from communities under the Gobha Kingdom that includes parts of three districts of present Assam: Morigaon, Nagaon and Kamrup. The Education Minister of Assam, Gautam Bora, distributing the bank cheques among the kings, said that the monetary assistance will be something between Rs. 3000 to Rs. 10,000 depending on the population count under them.
Picture Courtesy: Google images