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Coming to Assam's Raas fest? May drive back home in a Merc!

By Zafri Mudasser Nofil

Howly (Assam), Nov 5 (PTI) Devotees visiting the annual Raas Mahotsav here based on the central theme of Lord Krishna's divine love stand a chance to drive back home in a Mercedes.

Not only the Merc CLA 200, lucky ones may become the proud winner of a Toyota Innova Crysta, or a Mahindra XUV 500, or a Maruti Vitara Brezza, or one of the 11 other brands of cars.

Since 2006, a lottery contest has become an integral part of the Raas Mahotsav in this town in Assam's Barpeta district and all the prizes are cars.

This time, 1.8 lakh tickets are on offer, 20,000 more than last time, for 15 cars up for grabs, says Bibek Talukdar, secretary of the Howly Raas Lottery Committee.

The Raas festival here began on Friday and will continue till 17. The winners of the lottery contest will be announced on the last day.

"Last year, the first prize was won by a poor farmer. In 2015, the first prize was bagged by a fish monger," Talukdar told PTI.

Winners are from the lower income category normally sell the cars, he says.

An interesting aspect is that since its inception, the lottery coupon is fixed at a rate of Rs. 100.

In the inaugural year, the first prize was a Maruti 800. According to Utpal Nath, secretary of Howly Raas Committee, nearly 30 lakh devotees turn up for the festival with about 5 lakh coming on the last day in 2016.

Over the years, the proceeds have been utilised for building a temple, a multipurpose cultural complex with Japanese technology, he says.

Tickets are sold out a week before the festival and the cars are displayed for 15 days, he says.

"Some people come to see only the cars. The tickets are sold only in counters here. This year cars worth Rs 1.20 crore will be given," Nath says.

Himraj Das, an executive officer at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who hails from this town, has been trying his luck in vain in the lottery contest. He, however, hasn't given up hope.

"Howly Raas Mahotsav is being celebrated since 90 years here. The festival and fair attract large crowds of people not only from all over the district of Barpeta, but also from neighbouring districts and West Bengal," he says.

This Raas Mela, according to him, has developed a tradition of its own and holds a separate identity for its uniqueness and indigenous clarity.

"Uniqueness in the sense that though it is a religious festival, it is a symbol of secular mood in the district. The mela symbolises brotherhood irrespective of the religious diversity.

"Indigenous in the sense that though all kinds of trade and business and entertainments are there, the Mahotsav has been able to retain its indigenousness by keeping programmes like Oja-Pali, Dhulia, Yatra, Kabigaan, Naam Kirtan among others," Das says.

It is very famous for the Meena Bazar and display of various games, shops, trade fairs, shows etc.

This year, the space for a stall selling jalebis has been rented out at Rs 1,2000, Nath says. PTI ZMN SHD

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.


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