Tourism plan for Assam barter fair

The Assam government plans to put Jonbeel Mela, a traditional fair that has still kept the ancient barter system alive, into global tourism calender.

Three days after Bhogali Bihu, Assam's annual post-harvest festival, people belonging to Karbi tribe come down from nearby hills to the bank of Jonbeel, a wetland in Morigaon district, about 50 km east from here and exchange goods with Tiwa community villagers living in the plains. 
 
From turmeric to ginger and other fruits and vegetables organically grown on the hills are exchanged with pounded rice, curd, home-made cakes, dry fish and other food items prepared by those in the plains.
 
"Jonbeel Mela with its barter system has the potential of turning into a major tourist attraction. We will support and promote it as a global tourism event. The three-day mela turns into a confluence of humanity every year and gives us an opportunity to present the diversities to tourists and strengthen the harmonious co-existence of various communities in our state," Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, while addressing the closing ceremony on Saturday.
 
Sonowal announced Rs 1 crore for promotion of the fair. 

Fishing, feasting

Although there is no specific information about inception of the festival, many say the fair has been continuing for generations. A day before the barter, villagers take part in community fishing in the beel (wetland) for feasting. 
 
The Tiwa community has also kept the tradition of kingdom alive with villagers offering their 'taxes' or contribution to the descendents of Medieval age Tiwa Kingdom. They are called Govaroja or Gova kings.
 
Sonowal also handed over cheques of financial assistance to the Gova kings, dressed in their royal attire.

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Tourism plan for Assam barter fair

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