Jamai Mela is held every year on the first day of Magh in Binirail of Kaliganj Upazila of Gazipur. In this traditional fair, local sons-in-law go to their in-laws to buy fish. In the fair, there is a competition between the sons-in-law to buy big fish.
This time around the fair, common people are enjoying the festival in the area. In addition to fish, there is a wide variety of products. The organizers say that fish worth at least two crore rupees is bought and sold in the fair. And people from different districts flock here to buy local and foreign fish.
It has been seen on the surface of the fair, like every year, hundreds of people are coming to the Jamai Mela. For almost two and a half hundred years, this traditional Jamai Mela has been held at Binirail of Jamalpur, Jangalia and Bakhtarpur Unions of the upazila. Although it is called Jamai Mela, mainly small and large domestic and foreign fishes are sold here. On the occasion of the fair, fish sellers have arranged fish stalls in thousands of shops since morning.
Traders have brought fish from different parts of the country including Chittagong, Kishoreganj to the fair. Various types of native fish have been placed along with sea shell, Baghair, Ai, Boal, Kaliboush, Pabda, Gulsa, Lobster, Baim, Kaikla, Rupchanda, Shapla fish. Bigger fish are more buyers. There is also a silent competition between in-laws to buy fish.
The sellers say that they have come from different parts of the country to sell fish in the fair. Here, buyers buy fish through competition in the mood of the festival, sales are also good.
The main attraction of the day-long fair was Baghair fish weighing 70 kg worth lakhs of rupees. Buyers get confused around this Baghair fish. The seller lowered the price by 1 lakh 10 thousand taka. Among the buyers, a local son-in-law said the maximum price of the fish is 85 thousand taka. But the seller did not sell the fish hoping to fetch a higher price.
Thousands of people from Gazipur, Tangail, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Bhairab, Kishoreganj, Mymensingh gathered in the fair. Along with the fish, there are stalls of toys, sweets, textiles, handicrafts and cottage industries. Different types of fish are sold in the fair as well as sweets. Apart from this, wooden and steel furniture, fruits, toys, various kinds of pickles and all kinds of daily necessities are sold in the fair. There were several activities to entertain the children.
Talked to a visitor named Ashraf from Kapasia at the fair. He said, ‘I wanted to see this fair that is many years old. My in-laws invited me, I also came. I am visiting the fair, I will buy some fish for my in-laws.’
It is said that, on the occasion of Paush Sankranti, fairs were held in the 18th century. It started as a fish fair but later it came to be known as Jamai Mela. Every year, the in-laws of Binirail and surrounding villages invite their daughters-in-law to their homes around the fair. Girls visit father’s house with their husbands. The sons-in-law buy fish from the fair and take it to the in-laws’ house. So this fair is known as Jamai Mela.
Some of the local elders around Binirail fair premises said that the locals organized this fair on that land after harvesting the farmers’ paddy for about 250 years. The main attraction of the fair is the huge sized fish. This fair is held every year on the first day of the month of Magh at the end of Paush month.
There are also allegations of some mismanagement at the fair. There is no toilet despite the gathering of thousands of people. Women and the elderly are in trouble. In addition, people of different ages suffer from lack of clean water.
Kishore Akand, president of the organizing committee of the fair, said, ‘Binirail’s fish fair, which started from the British period, has now become a tradition of Kaliganj. This fair is recognized as the biggest fish fair. All measures have been taken to ensure the safety of buyers and sellers coming to the fair. No adverse events occurred. More than 500 young, mature people of the area are working here as volunteers.
According to the information provided by the organizing committee, fish worth at least two crore rupees is sold in this one-day fair. Not only fish trading, the fair has now become a festival for the locals along with carrying the culture and tradition of this area.