Guwahati: Cashless transactions may be the latest buzzword in the country's economic arena, but in a small hamlet about 32 km from Guwahati, members of Assam's Tiwa tribe meet every year to carry out a unique trade fair where the dealings are totally cashless.
The system of barter trade has been kept alive for more than five centuries by the Tiwas, a tribe of Central Assam and neighbouring Meghalaya, who hold the three-day annual fair in the third week of January in Assam's Morigaon district.
Popularly known as the 'Junbeel' Mela, meaning moon (Jun) and wetland (beel), the fair is held beside a large natural water body shaped like a crescent moon.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who attended the just concluded fair, said people have a lot to learn from these practices of the Tiwas which exemplify the cashless tenets of the modern day society.
He also announced that a permanent plot of land for the fair would be allotted so that the historic event can continue to thrive in the future and tourism receives a boost to benefit the local people.
"On the occasion of the mela, a big market is held here where these tribes exchange their products in barter system which is perhaps the only such instance in the country," Secretary of Junbeel Mela Development Samiti, Jur Sing Bordoloi said.
A few days before the fair, members of Tiwa, Karbi, Khasi and Jaintia tribes come down from the neighbouring hills with various products.
The products usually traded during the fair include ginger, bamboo shoots, turmeric, pumpkin, medicinal herbs, dried fish and 'pithas' (rice cakes).
The fair is declared open by the ceremonial 'Tiwa' king Deep Sing Deoraja, who along with his 'courtiers' participates in a community feast and then collects a customary tax from his subjects.
Mr Bordoloi pointed out that the significant part of the fair was its theme of harmony and brotherhood among various tribes and communities and they also perform their traditional dance and music to celebrate it.
As per tradition, community fishing is held on the second day of the fair and people from all walks of life participate in it with great enthusiasm.
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