No money, we believe in barter system

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Guwahati, Jan 20 (UNI) Though several banks are selling credit and debit cards for the customers for easy travel, the age-old barter system still continues to flourish at Jagiroad, an hour drive from here.

Driving past some 50 odd bill-boards of credit cards on this crowded NH-37, one can reach Jagiroad, where thousands of tribals assemble every third week of January to participate in the Jonbeel mela for bartering.

''We still value goodwill and encourage the barter systems between participating tribes,'' said the Tiwa king Deepsing Deorajah, a king without a kingdom but commands respect from people in surrounding areas stretching upto Meghalaya and Karbi Anglong.

Despite all kind of gizmos and electronic goods flooding the markets in the area, the tribals love to barter.

Even hundreds of Khasi tribals throng the place from neighbouring Meghalaya with their products to barter with the subjects of the Tiwa King, also known as Gobha Rajah.

''This is an age-old tradition. The Khasis and Jaintias come with ginger, turmeric, wild bee and betel nuts, brooms and several other things to exchange those with dried fish, salt, vegetables and clothes of the local Tiwas,'' said the Chief Executive Member of the Tiwa Autonomous Council Ramakanta Deuri.

The council is a modern form of governance, but during the mela days it allows the traditional king to take over the proceedings.

Braving severe cold, the tribals from Khasi hills this time have come two days in advance and were camping in open area near Jagiroad.

''All the arrangements are done by us,'' the Tiwa king said.

On the first day of the mela, people are allowed to buy anything with money in cash but on the second day money becomes valueless as every product is exchanged with some other.

''The Tiwas are master weavers and their clothes are in great demand. The Khasis do their annual marketing of clothes in this Mela,'' the Tiwa king added.

People even bring their relatives to witness the Jonbeel Mela for three days with extended session of feast, merry making and various indigenous games.

The other attractions of the Mela are community fishing, where more than 2000 people participate, and the cock fight.

''This year alone more than 400 cocks took part in the fight drawing hundreds of onlookers,'' a Khasi tribal avered.

Of late the Mela has attracted a number of tourists because of custom and tradition, where money has no value.

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