Joonbeel Mela: A trade fair where barter system rules

The historic Joonbeel Mela is held every year in the month of January for 3 days in the Morigaon district of Assam. All trades are carried out through the primitive barter system here in the mela. The tribal people from the nearby hills come down to the plains and set up their camp where they exchange the commodities brought them with the locals. People also participate in the community fishing in the nearby lake popularly known as beel. The fair is popularly called the ‘Junbeel’ Mela meaning moon (Jun) and wetland (beel) as it is held beside a large natural water body shaped like a crescent moon. The products usually traded during the fair include ginger, bamboo shoots, turmeric, pumpkin, medicinal herbs, dried fish and ‘pithas’ (rice cakes). The Gova king presides over the Mela gathering followed by public meeting where he greets the kings of the nearby kingdom. It is a three day affair and the bartering of the commodities starts at 3 am early in the  morning.