Sarthebari: Thousands stride towards Sarthebari town with the commencement of the 8-day-long historic Sarthebari Sabha Mahotsav. The festival began on February 18 with the erection of the idols of Lord Jagannath at the altar of the Jagannath Temple that were brought from different naamghars (community worshiping places) of the town followed by colourful processions. The festival will continue till February 25.
The festival commenced on the very first day of the lunar fortnight in the holy month of Magha. It is the forum of discussion related to social issues which is an indispensable part and prelude to the great festival.
The main attraction of the events is "Hom Jajna” which is offered on the full moon day. Altogether 101 Brahmin saints perform the Hom Jajna, a ritual where thousands of devotees from across Assam participate. Naam to be performed that afternoon is also expected to draw a huge crowd.
Devotees in large number had already thronged the temples on the second day to light earthen lamps. A fair also started on the same day which will continue till February 25.
During the 6-day extravaganza there will be extensive religious and entertainment programmes. Commercial activities can also be seen in the fair. Every material of household utility is available in the fair which has given it an extra dimension. The locals wait for this fair to buy their utilities for the rest of the year.
The fair is conducted by a committee, Sarthebari Panchkhel Unnayan Samiti Panch Pradhan, which plays a vital role both in festival and the fair.
Sarthebari Sabha Mahotsav has no written history. It has been observed since time immemorial. At one time it was the main and only attraction for both commercial purpose and entertainment in eastern part of Barpeta and western part of Nalbari in Assam.
The social structure of Sarthebari is unique in nature. The entire town is divided into 5 parts, each known as a khel. They nominate one representative each, who forms the Pancha Pradhan and are assigned to perform differently in the society. Though the fair is conducted by a committee, the Panch Pradhan plays the vital role both in the Mel and the fair.
Situated in 90 kms North west distance from Guwahati, Sarthebari is a town in Barpeta district of Assam which is famous for its production of bell metal utensils. Artistes associated with the industry enjoy the fair with the closing of their yearly account. They also avail the opportunity of business on this occasion.
Earlier, as there were no market to buy essential items like cloth and stationary, farmers and weavers had to wait till the fair to buy their tools.