Sherring, Matthew A.
The sacred city of the Hindus: an account of Benares in ancient and modern times — London, 1868

Page: 213
DOI Page: Citation link: 
https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/sherring1868/0254
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213

CHAPTEE XVII.

Hindu and Mohammedan Melds or Religious Festivals held periodically
in Benares.

Festivals, or melds, as they are commonly called, are
very numerous in all parts of India, and present a pecu-*
liar phase of the social life of the people, such as is rarely
found in civilized countries. They are more or less con-
nected with religion; and their origin can he, in every
case, traced to certain religious ceremonies performed,
or said to have been performed, in some sacred locality,
as on the banks of a river, or near a holy well or tank,
once famous for the exploits of their deified heroes or
gods. At the same time, many of them have a secular
end, in addition to their religious character, and are
held as much for amusement and trade as for graver
purposes. They are, in fact, fairs; and, in some in-
stances, they are of prodigious extent.

The word meld signifies a concourse or assemblage
of persons, and is derived from the Sanskrit root mil,
meaning ' to meet,' ' to congregate.' A meld is of two
kinds: that at which religion and amusement are com-
bined, and that which is simply and solely devoted to
religion. To the former the people go gaily dressed;
but they are present at the latter in their ordinary
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