Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanata Biswa Sarma on Friday attended the three-day historic Gova Deoroja Jonbeel Mela at Dayang Belguri pathar in Morigaon district, which is around 65 kilometer east of the State capital city. Indigenous Tiwa monarch Deep Singh Deoroja along with the rulers of other Tiwa kingdoms were also present during the second day’s program.

Best known for the practice of barter system of trade between communities of the hills and plains of the nearby and adjoining areas, the three-day annual Jonbeel Mela has traditionally been patronised by the Tiwa royal families for at least five centuries since the medieval period. Various indigenous communities like Karbi, Khasi, Jayantia, Tiwa, etc do business without using the currency during the festival.

Addressing a public meeting at the venue, Sarma referred to the traditional fare as
one of the most distinct cultural practices of Assam owing to its peculiarity such as the barter system of trade, collection of taxes and holding of royal assembly by the Tiwa monarch Gova Roja, which is not commonly observed during any contemporary events in India.
He also credited the tradition of Jonbeel Mela for providing a platform for interaction between various ethnicities which gradually led to the growth of brotherly relations and removal of prejudice between various ethnic communities. Continuation of the Jonbeel Mela in its original form for centuries was a manifestation of the importance of the Tiwa community.

Stating that the central reason behind holding the festival was economic, and that it was still serving that very purpose, apart from being a platform for spread of peace and brotherhood between communities, Sarma handed over ‘Raj Bhatta’ to the Tiwa kings. He also declared that 20 bighas of land at an appropriate location would be allotted to the Jonbeel Mela committee so that the tradition can be practiced from next year onwards at the new location.
In presence of State minister Pijush Hazarika, legislators Ramakanta Deuri, Asif Md. Nazar, Tiwa autonomous council chief Jibon Chandra Konwar, Karbi Anglong autonomous council chief Tuliram Ronghang with others, Sarma made an appeal to the Tiwa population to remain rooted to their culture and identity adding that an ethnicity cannot thrive for long if it loses its touch with its cultural roots.