BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE

FAIRS

Fairs in Maharashtra as also in India formerly served two-fold purpose. They were in the first place religious gatherings though attended by persons belonging to almost all the religious professions and secondly, they were also centres of trade for exchange of indigenous goods and products produced by village artisans. They were thus complementary to weekly markets in so far as commercial transactions were concerned. Moreover, they provided an outlet for local goods and talents.

The following is the account of fairs held in various parts of Ahmad-nagar district at the time the old Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer was published:-

"Fairs lasting one to twenty days with an attendance of 1,500 to 36,000 and with a trade worth 15 to 4,000 (Rs. 150 to Rs. 40,000) are held at thirty places, five in Nevasa, six in Kopargaon, three in Rahuri, two in Jamkhed, one in Karjat, one in Ahmadnagar, two in Shevgaon, three in Shrigonda and seven in Parner. The articles sold are groceries, sweetmeats, vegetables, wooden wares, plantains, cloths, bangles, hides, clay figures, bamboos, lanterns, needles and shoes; also wooden drums, rings, fruits, betel-nuts and leaves, and dates. The sellers are Bagvans, Bohoras, Chambhars, Dhangars, Dhors, Halvais, Kasars, Kunbis, Lohars, Malis, Mangs, Shimpis, Sutars and at Madhi Gisadis, Gujaratis, Kaikadis, Marwaris, Pardeshis, Vanis and Vanjaris ............................... The fairs in Jamkhed are largely visited by Khandesh traders who bring blankets which are bought by the people either for use or for local sale. Barter takes place to a limited extent and chiefly

TABLE No. 39-QUANTITY AND VALUE OF JOWAR AND RICE COLLECTED UNDER MONOPOLY PROCUREMENT SYSTEM FROM 1965-66 TO 1968-69

Year

Jowar/Rice

Quantity

Value

(in quintals)

(in rupees)

1965-66

Jowar

Nil.

Nil.

Rice

8,776

5,748

1966-67

Jowar

3,81,36,875

2,31,25,611

Rice

3,922

2,854

1967-68

Jowar

3,28,64,971

1,95,58,927

Rice

2,411

2,42,067

1968-69

Jowar

1,87,76.523

1,12,88,998

Rice

2,20,156

2,19,043

TABLE No. 40-QUANTITY AND VALUE OF FOOD-GRAINS DISBURSED THROUGH FAIR PRICE SHOPS IN AHMADNAGAR DISTRICT SINCE 1965-66

Year

Commodity

Quantity

Value

Remarks

(in quintals)

(in rupees)

1965-66

(1) Wheat

1,64,340

95,00,000

The value of grains in 1965-66 is approximate as correct details are not available.

(2) Rice

41,180

35,00,000

(3) Jowar

1,74,570

1,01,25,000

Total

3,80,090

2,31,25,000

1966-67

(1) Wheat

1,89,834

1,06,05,498

The value of jowar in 1966-67 is approximate.

(2) Rice

11,677

9,92,463

(3) Milo

1,33,294

54,30,864

(4) Jowar

1,07,510

62,83,890

Total

4,42,315

2,33,12,715

 

1967-68

(1) Wheat

6,876

4,45,288

(2) Milo

67,833

32,17,232

(3) Bajri

1,203

1,01,008

(4) Rice

4,120

4,15,548

(5) Jowar

1,33,359

86,85,644

Total

2,13,391

1,28,64,720

1968-69

(1) Wheat

54,519

49,46,403

(2) Milo

2,308

1,22,204

(3) Bajri

11,087

8,67,483

(4) Rice

16,401

17,23,261

(5) Jowar

1,45,678

94,93,071

Total

2,29,993

1,71,52,422

among Kunbis in cattle, drinking and cooking vessels and other every-day wares." [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Ahmadnagar, 1884, p. 341.]

With the passage of time and spread of education among the masses the importance of fairs is declining. Now the fairs are held more in the nature of a commercial activity though they have still not lost their religious significance.

Pedlars, vendors and other small traders such as grocers, pan-bidi vendors set up booths at the site of fair and do a flourishing business. Many people purchase articles of domestic use at the fairs. Clothes, earthen pots, bangles, utensils, sweetmeats, toys and other such articles are sold on a large scale. A large number of fairs is held in the district. The number of fairs in each taluka in 1961 is given below:-

Taluka

No. of Fairs

Taluka

No. of Fairs

Kopargaon

104

Parner

114

Akola

153

Ahmadnagar

109

Sangamner

138

Pathardi

92

Shrirampur

76

Shrigonda

84

Rahuri

82

Karjat

80

Nevasa

121

Jamkhed

53

Shevgaon

122

Shirdi fair is the biggest fair to be held in the district followed by Sonai and Karjat. Besides the main fairs, there are 993 minor fairs, of which 990 are held in rural areas and three in urban areas. As usual the number of fairs with a congregation of less than 5,000 are quite numerous. A description of a few fairs is given below:-

Sai Baba Fair at Shirdi: The fair is held in honour of the famous saint Shri Sai Baba and is one of the biggest fairs in Maharashtra. The main fair is held on Chaitra Sudha 8 and 9 every year in addition to other fairs held on Guru Paurnima, i.e., on Ashadha Sudha 15 and Gokul Ashtami. The people attending this fair mostly come from Bombay and the neighbouring districts. The total number of people attending the fair is estimated to be around fifty to sixty thousand. A considerable turn-over of trade is transacted at the fair. The traders from Bombay, Nasik, Aurangabad and Sholapur attend the fair to do their business. The important things sold at the fair are clothing, stationery, house-hold utensils etc.

Kanifnath Fair at Madhi: The Kanifnath fair is held on Phalgun Vadya 5 to Chaitra Sudha 1 for 15 days in honour of the saint Kanifnath at Madhi in Pathardi taluka. At the time of the fair a good amount of cattle trade takes place. The fair lasts for 15 days.

Siddheshwar Fair, Toka: The fair is held in honour of Lord Siddheshwar at Toka in Nevasa taluka. The fair is held on Mahashivaratri and lasts for ten days. There is a brisk trade in utensils, cloth, stationery, grocery, sweetmeats, toys, miscellaneous articles, agricultural produce and religious books with the turn-over amounting to about a lakh of rupees. People from all over the district as well as from the adjoining districts attend the fair. Traders from outside the district also attend the fair to do their business.

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