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

Page: 213
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License: Public Domain Mark Use / Order
1 cm


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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