By Avijit Biswas
Bhagalpur, Banka, Bihar, India: The inauguration of famous rural fair of this region Bounsi Mela on Saturday was marked by huge turnout of people. The mela is organized every year at foot of Mandar Hill in Banka district on occasion of Makar Sankranti. Officially the mela is organized as Mandar Mahotsav.
In 2018 Bounsi mela was accorded status of state fair status. The mela is organized by tourism department of the state government. At an official function held at foot of Mandar hill, the mela was inaugurated by Shahnawaz Alam, minister of disaster management department in state government who is also minister-in -charge of Banka district.
The speakers at inaugural function in most cases referred to mythological importance of Mandar hill in their addresses. The basic concept of mela being organized since decades though remains same however with increased facilities it is better organized now.
The Mandar hill in Banka district located close to Santhal Pargana division of Jharkhand, Bounsi Mela reflects mix of both tribal and non-tribal cultures. Mythologically it is largely believed that taking dip in Papharni Sarovar located at foot of Mandar Hill on Makar Sankranti day relieves people of sin.
Madhusudan Sabha yatra part of the fair organized every year on Makar Sankranti day was also organized today. Starting from Madhusudan temple in Bounce the Sabha yatra went up to Mandar hill.
On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, people from all over gather at Papharini to take a dip in the pond before participating in the fair. The followers of Safa dharma are also among participants in the fair.
The Safa dharma said to be propounded in 1946 by saint Chandler Das, the followers of the dharma from the Chhattisgarh, Odessa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh undertake parikrama of Mandar hill on occasion of Makar Sankranti.
The Mandar Hill being important religious place for followers of different religions including followers of Jain dharma adds to the uniqueness of the fair. Compared to earlier days with passage of time though some changes have taken place in form of Bounsi Mela however core concept of mela depicting agricultural progress in rural areas remain unchanged.
According to locals, after harvest, people from neighboring rural areas of Jharkhand, West Bengal, and this state used to congregate at the foot of Mandar Hill to participate in fairs. Despite change in entertainment segment of the mela compared to past, the fair continues to remain a major attraction, particularly for the rural populace.
Taking into consideration that Bounce Mela is primarily an agriculture fair to provide participants better facility of showcasing their agriculture produce, a Krishi Bhawan constructed near the venue of the mela was inaugurated a few years ago.
Cultural programmes and sports activities is scheduled during mela. The fair would officially conclude after two days. However, mela continues unofficially for another fortnight.