In the era of globalisation and modernization, it is difficult to imagine life without market and money. It governs our choices. Hence, the practice of exchanging goods instead of purchase is a unique one. JonBeel mela1 is such a “market” where goods are exchanged by barter system rather than bought and sold through monetary transactions. The documentary “Crossroads” explores this mela, presenting a journey of visual delight and tries to bring out the various aspects of the mela. On the first Thursday following Magh Bihu, JonBeel mela is organized as a three day community fair in a place called Jonbeel, situated in Morigaon district of Assam. There are various interpretations regarding the history of the mela and its beginning is believed to be around the 15th/16th century. The mela has continued since centuries where people from Karbi, Khasi, Tiwa, Jayantia, Garo tribes come down from the hills to interchange goods with the people from the plains. The mela is a vibrant one where one can see bartering of goods, community fishing, cock fights, dance and music along with the royal court of the Gova King keeping the diverse culture of the tribes alive and also turning it to a tourist destination. The documentary showcases the happenings of these three days and also looks at the problems faced by the mela. It further points out the rise in the number of shops in the mela grounds and whether it will one day encroach upon the mela or help in attracting an even larger crowd. For centuries, the Jonbeel mela has been a site of harmony and brotherhood between the hills and plains of Assam. Barter in a post monetary economy will always have to fight for its survival. The question thus remains if it will die out in the face of commercialization as a last one of its kind or will it continue for years to come keeping the customs and culture of the people alive.
- HORNBILL FESTIVAL
- Ethnic Food of Assam