The largest dwarf goonch at the fair, 190 cm in TL
The largest Dwarf goonch at the fish fair measuring 190 cm in TL

The Poradaha Fish Fair of Bogra district is a famous fair in Northern Bangladesh. The date of the fair is quite interesting, it generally sets on the last Wednesday of the Bengali month Magh, if this Wednesday is not within the last three days of Magh month then it sets on the first Wednesday of Falgun month (next month to Magh). Though official duration of this fair is one day but generally continued for two to three days. This fair has been continuing for about last 150 years. Fish from different sources are available at this fair, especially those are of large size.

In the very beginning (about 150 years back), this fair was taken place first focusing the “Sannasi Puja (সন্ন্যাসী পূঁজা)”. A general or traditional fair was also taken place on that occasion regarding the worship, which was popularly known as “Sonnasir Mela (সন্ন্যাসীর মেলা)”. Tradition of selling fish in this fair is continuing from that time.

A visit was made to this fair on 13 February 2013 with a view to observing species diversity of landed fish. Weight and size were measured by standard balance and measuring scale. Some relevant info were also noted down during this visit through interview of members of the management and direct observations.

Collection of Dwarf goonch in a stall
Collection of Dwarf goonch in a stall

Shops: Temporary shops are built by the sellers during the fair. Though this fair is highlighted “fish” in its name but not only fish stalls are found here. Stalls of traditional sweets, locally grown fruits especially seasonal fruits, furniture and others are also found. Around 200 temporary shops were found in fair only for selling fish during the visit.

Fish species diversity: Though the number of landed fish was huge but this number was few in terms of species diversity. A total of 19 fish species under 16 genera and 8 families were observed (listed here).

Family: Cyprinidae
01. Ctenopharyngodon idella, Grass carp
02. Aristichthys nobilis, Bighead carp
03. Cyprinus carpio communis, Scale carp
04. Cyprinus carpio specularis, Mirror carp
05. Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Silver carp
06. Labeo rohita, Rui
07. Catla catla, Catla
08. Cirrhinus chirrosus, Mrigal
Family: Siluridae
09. Wallago attu, Boal/Freshwater shark
10. Bagarius bagarius, Dwarf goonch/Bagair
11. Pangasius hypophthalmus, Sutchi pangus/Thai pangus
12. Pangasius pangasius, Deshi/Native pangus
Family: Bagridae
13. Sperata aor, Ayre
14. Sperata seenghala, Guizza ayre
Family: Notopteridae
15. Chitala chitala, Chutal/Clown knifefish
Family: Characidae
16. Pygocentrus nattereri, Red piranha/Thai rupchanda
Family: Carangidae
17. Scomberoides commersonnianus, Talang queenfish
Family: Xiphiidae
18. Xiphias gladius, Sword fish
Family: Belonidae
19. Tylosurus crocodilus, Fork tail alligator gar

Both aquacultured and wild species were found to be landed in this year’s fair. Some marine fish species like Talang queenfish and Sword fish were also brought to attract the visitors.

Major attraction of this fair was Bagair or Dwarf goonch fish, which is considered the largest freshwater fish of our country. It is a Critically Endangered in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh 2000). Maximum length of this species was recorded 190 cm (total length, weighing 66.5 kg, caught in the Jamuna River) in visited fish fair. Hossain (2010) reported the total length (148 cm) and weight (65 kg) for this species in the Ganges river of Northwest Bangladesh, and claimed that this is the highest record for this species in South Asia ignoring Rahman (1989 and 2005) who mentioned that this species can exceed 180 cm in length. However, if we consider these findings, our observed specimen is the largest record in Bangladesh.

It became a prestigious issue for the people of adjacent area that they must need to buy a large fish from the fair. Local leaders or rich people usually buy fish belong to highest length/weight group. However fish loving people can visit this fair when set. The location of the fair can easily be reached after reaching Bogra city.

People returning home after purchasing fish  from fair
People returning home after purchasing fish from fair

Acknowledgements: Dr. ABM Mohsin (Associate Professor), Roni Chandra Mondal (MPhil Research Fellow), SM Abu Naser (Ex-MS student) of the Department of Fisheries, University of Rajshahi; and fish retailers, member of the fish fair management for their kind support and cooperation.


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Poradaha Fish Fair 2013

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Shams Galib

Shams works in freshwater ecosystems, primarily on fish diversity in terms of their availability, and richness; he is also interested in aquatic invasive species and their impacts on ecosystem. Email: More...

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