Jonbeel Mela, Assam

Assam’s Jonbeel Mela: Where cashless transactions have been in vogue for 500 years. The Jonbeel Mela, organised by the Tiwa community at Dayang Belguri in Morigaon district for over five centuries, witnesses the exchange of goods between tribes from the hills and plains of Assam as well as Meghalaya.

In a demonetised age where cashless transactions are being projected as the country’s stepping stones to a brighter future, the Jonbeel Mela – arguably India’s only fair that works on the barter system – comes as a veritable blast from the past. To be specific, the 15th century.

Jonbeel mela is perhaps the only occasion that brings the barter system alive in India today. Money is literally no object during the three-day-long community fair at Jonbeel, near Guwahati, which brings thousands of people from the hills and plains of the North-east together for a barter fest once a year.

About seven kilometres into a detour from the busy National Highway 37 in Assam’s Jagiroad, at a place called Dayang Belguri, colourful tents and a tall Ferris wheel adorn the horizon in preparation for a 500-year-old indigenous fair. Held since the early 17th century (some accounts place its origin in the 15th century), the Jonbeel festival is a three-day annual festival organised by the Tiwa tribe in Assam and Meghalaya.

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