PRAYAGRAJ: Magh Mela has become a prime opportunity for groups of nomads who have come from hundreds of kilometers faraway Himalayans foothills to sandy banks of Sangam.
These groups of nomads are doing their flourishing business in the vast mela area selling various ‘Jadi Buti’ (herbs) along with ‘rare items’ like musk, useful herbs, Rudharaksh seed, bones of Jackal and other animals. However, barring few genuine items, most of the things being sold by these nomads are replicas of original items and thereby calling for customers to be extra vigilant. Most of the business is being done by the women of these nomads living in the forest area of lower and middle Himalaya including those in Nepal and India. Although these groups are well acquainted by the fact that many of the items being sold by them come under Wildlife Protection Act and they can be apprehended for selling the same, this fails to deter them from earning quick buck in flourishing market of ongoing Magh Mela.
Apart from various necklaces, these women could be seen openly selling rare items like ‘Musk’ (which looks exactly like the original piece but is a replica), different kinds of herbs, which have been collected from thick forests of Himalaya, skull of Fox and Jackal and many other similar items. “Apart from pilgrims, who have come to Magh Mela from various corners of the country, these items are in great demand by those who practice witchcraft”, claims one of the sellers, Munni.
And for these women, they are cautious too because of which they refrain from interacting freely with anyone who is not interested in buying their items. It takes hours of grilling and making friendly gestures that these groups gave a positive reply to TOI and shared some information but were equally apprehensive when TOI photographed them.
Like in the case of Sitabai, she was quick to tell that she hails from Nepal but she was not sure of the name of her village. “For years together, we collect these items only to bring to a big market such as this and there are many things which are just the replica of original items but these are rare items, none of us can have genuine items at these cheap rates”, she said. The rate of commodities that are being sold by these groups varies according to mutual consent. For instance, the rate for a piece of Musk starts from Rs 1000 but the same comes down to Rs 300. Similarly, a pair of Rudraksh seed can be yours for Rs 100 and that with carving of a deity is for Rs 150. But while purchasing these items, one has to be very vigilant as most of these things are just the replica of the original. “Who will pay for the real Musk and moreover it is too dangerous to sell the same in the open but if someone is ready to pay we do have original items too”, said Phooli, who sells her items by roaming from different roads of the mela area.

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