While terms like global warming, carbon emission, material extraction, need for sustainable growth, etc., rampantly invade serious topics of discussion across the globe what comes as solace is the rural economy and agricultural activities which are least manipulated by the mechanisms that exhaust resources.
A local market fair held recently in Omalloor, a village in Pathanamthitta, Kerala, is an event that conforms to such a rich agricultural heritage and highlights prosperity and social unity.
The one-month long agrarian fair celebrated the old and new trends in cultivation, offering a unique experience to visitors. The sale of fresh local produce was the highlight of the field market. In the olden days, this village festival, where cattle and other agricultural produce were traded, was the occasion of great revelry and social gathering as well.
The torch relay and rally was conducted to announce the commencement of the field market at Thekkevayal in Velinelloor panchayat, Kollam located more than 50 kilometres away. The rally was accorded a grand welcome at Omalloor market by the panchayat with the cooperation of the public. The torch was lighted, marking the beginning of the market fair, at the memorial below the alstonia scholaris (paala in Malayalam) tree.
Locally produced agricultural products like yam, colocasia, taro, purple yam, other root vegetables, saplings and flowering plants are all exclusively sold at the Omalloor field market. Besides these, the beach sand vessels brought from Thanjavoor, household items of the olden times like 'para' and 'naazhi', locally made knives, ural (mortar), ulakka (pestle) and other agrarian products were on the display. Krishi Bhavan has opened a special stall where the saplings and seeds of various vegetables and plants were distributed.
The legend had it that, one day an ox which was tied on a tree stump in a field at Velinalloor panchayat in Kollam, ran berserk. When the ox reached the fields in Omalloor, a farmer managed to calm the beast and yoke it. It is believed that the tree stump grew into a huge tree under which the famous Omalloor field market and animal trade took place. This historical background along with the availability of rich agricultural produce make it a unique spot of trade and gathering.
(Photos: Nikhilraj P)