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In this 500-year-old Assam fair, barter system comes alive

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Dispur, Feb 5: At an age when the global economy is doing with post-cash means, there are parts that are still in the pre-cash days. The annual Jonbeel Mela in Morigaon district of Assam is one such occasion where transactions take place not through money but barter system.

In this 500-year-old Assam fair, barter system comes alive

Local tribal groups like Karbi, Khasi, Jaintia and Tiwa participate in the festival that signifies harmony and exchange required items with others. It is also an opportunity for the local people to socialise besides meeting their everyday needs.

The annual festival takes place for three days (it was held between January 17 and 19 this year) and it is being held at a location named Dayang Belguri (32 kilometres from Guwahati) since the 15th century.

The fair has seen inclusion of some modern-day aspects like selling of factory-made items and bike stunts but the basic transaction mode remained the same.

"The tribal people coming from Hills had disposed of their stock of turmeric, ginger, pepper, bamboo shoot, pumpkin, ash gourd, green chilli from their jhum (slash and burn cultivation practice) fields and also medicil herbs. In return, they had plenty of pitha (a traditiol Assamese rice cake made during Magh Bihu), dried fish, chira (flattened rice) sandoh (roasted and grounded rice) that they will get to take back home," Assam's noted daily 'The Sentinel' reported.

Political dignitaries, including Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, attended the fair. The government of Assam has vowed to make the fair a global tourist attraction.

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