MUSSOORIE, June 28
More than 12000 villagers from around Jaunpur region congregated at Aglar river to celebrate the historic annual Raj “Maun” Fishing festival on Thursday amid the beating of traditional drums and cries of “Macha” Macha (Fish, fish) on Thursday. Around 12 Quintal of fish were caught in the single day during the one day festival that is held on annual basis on the tributary of River Yamuna 20 km away from Mussoorie.
A sea of humanity from 140 villages around Jaunpur village converged on the river bank to collect the prized catch in the form of mahseer, eel, etc.
The villagers armed with their fishing nets and other necessary equipment plunged in the river as soon as the intoxicant powder prepared by villagers from Silgaon in Chaijula Patti from peeling the Timru bark was dumped in the river at Maunkot. unconscious due to the effect of the powder the fish were caught by the villagers who jostled for it six km downstream .
Jabbar Singh, 35 year-old from Kandi Khal village, said that it was indeed a historic day for the village. He said the festival had its history. He said that the king of Garhwal began this festival keeping environmental and social concerns in mind. The king directed its subjects to celebrate “Maun” once a year so that the river by the continuous human activity was cleaned of all fungus and the fishes that came upstream for breeding peacefully during the monsoon and this exercise also ensured social harmony and reassured bonding among people. Ravi, a tourist and travel writer, who was present at the river, said it was the way for strengthening the social ties among various villages.
However, the environmentalist aired their concerns health of the river due to incessant catching of fish in such large numbers in the river. They said that the use of chemical powder and passing of current in the river year-round to catch fish was effecting the number of fish here and such practice should be stopped completely. Bitto Kavi the member of the fishing festival committee said that the festival occurs only one day, and it could not make much of difference. He said that the villagers have already introduced a system of fine for those who use chemical powder and current to catch the fish.