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resort to the same places, and listen to the songs, and pay the Gunahrís money. People of reputation do not go to this melá.
18. The Dhelá Chauth Melá, held at Bará Gaņeś, on the 4th day of Bhadon. The Hindus fast on this day, in honour of the god Gaņeś, and visit his temple in crowds. The origin of the melá is as follows. It is a current belief, among the natives, that whoever, on the evening of this day, looks up at the moon, will assuredly be charged with a false accusation in the course of the year; and the only way to be delivered from this prospective ignominy is for the person who has, unfortunately, looked at the moon, to be abused and in some way dishonoured on this day. It was, at one time, the custom for people in this predicament to invite anybody they could procure to throw dhelá or stones at their houses. Vagabonds of the city used to take advantage of this custom, by amusing themselves with throwing large stones at people's houses; but this has been partially, though not entirely, stopped by the police.
19. The Lolárik Chhath Melá, held at the Lolárik Well, near Así Sangam, on the 6th day of Bhadon. Hindus of both sexes bathe in the well on this day, in honour of the Sun. The Gunahrís visit this place, as at the Kajrí melá; and, hence, this festival is rather a concourse of dissolute persons.
20. The Báwan-dwádasí Melá, held at Chitrkot and Barna Sangam, on the 12th day of Bhadon. Hindus, male and female, resort to the confluence of the Barna and the Ganges in the morning; and in the evening,
those of the male sex go to Chitrkoț, to witness the dramatic performance of the Báwan Avatár or Dwarf Incarnation of Vishnu.
21. The Anant Chaudas Melá, held at Ramnagar, on the 14th day of Bhadon. This is a private fast day. On this day the great festival of the Rám Lílá begins at Rámnagar.
22. The Surayá Melá, held at Lakshmi Kund or Tank, from the 8th of Bhádon Sudi to the 8th day of the waning moon of Kúár, and kept up, therefore, for sixteen days. Hindus, especially females, bathe in Lakshmi Kund, and visit the temple of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. On the last day of the melá thousands throng the temple from morning to night.
23. The Rám Lílá Melá, held at Chitrkot, and in many other places, from the 8th day of the waning moon of Kúár to the 15th day of Kuár Sudi. This festival consists of a public dramatic exhibition of the exploits of Rám. Chitrkot is the most ancient place in the city in which it is held; but various wealthy natives, and, especially, the Maharaja of Benares, gratify themselves, and, at the same time, indulge the populace, by giving similar entertainments at their own expense. At one, and, perhaps, more of these places, the Rámáyaņa, which gives a long and detailed account of Rám's achievements, is publicly read from the beginning to the end. Figures of Rám, his friends, and adversaries, dressed up fantastically, take part in the exhibition, and are made to fight together, until the enemies of Rám are mutilated and dishonoured, and, at length, utterly destroyed. The festival of the Rám Lílá is,
perhaps, the most popular and most numerously attended of any held in Benares. There is a great deal of barbaric pomp and oriental splendour connected with it; and native gentlemen vie with each other in the amount of tinsel and tawdry they can display. On that day of the festival, — namely, the 10th day of Kúár Sudi, on which the Dasahrá or Bijai Dasamí melá is held at Chaukhá Ghát, when Rám fights with Rávaņa, and the latter is killed, -an immense crowd, estimated at upwards of thirty thousand persons, is present. On leaving for their homes, the people carry away, as spoils from Lanká, of which island Rávaņa was formerly the king, a small quantity of earth, picked up at Chaukhá Ghát, deeming it to be gold, of which, in common belief, the island was entirely composed. The Sami tree is worshipped on this day; and it is considered a good omen to catch sight of a nílkaạth or blue jay.
24. The Durga Melá, held by the Bengalis of Benares from the 1st to the 3rd day of Kúár Sudi. During these days, large numbers of the Bengali population make idols of the goddess Durgá, and then worship them. On the day called Dasamí, there is a procession of idols at the Daśáśamedh Ghát, in the presence of thousands of persons, which are all, at length, thrown in the Ganges by their Bengali masters.
25. The Dhan Teras Melá, held at Thatherí Bazar and Chaukhambhá, on the 13th day of the waning moon of Kártik. On this day the people, especially bankers, worship Dhan or Wealth, at night. In the shops of the Thatherí Bazar, or the bazar in which metal pots and pans are sold, there is a great display of vessels of
brass, copper, and other metals. Moreover, the shops are illuminated. In the bazar of Chaukhambhá, the shopkeepers make an exhibition of earthen images. It is customary, on this day, for the richer classes in the city to purchase metal vessels in the Thatherí Bazar.
26. The Anark-Chaudas Melá, held at Mír Ghát, and in the Bhadaini Ward, in the month of Kártik, on the 14th day of the decline of the moon. On this night, the Monkey-god, Hanumán, is believed to have been born. About three o'clock on the following morning, Hindus rub scented oil and other perfumes on their bodies, and bathe in warm water, with certain religious ceremonies, which they imagine to be a preservative from disease during the coming year. At sunrise, newly clad in their winter clothing, they proceed to the shrines of Hanumán, at the two places above referred to.
27. The Diwali Melá, held throughout the city, on the 15th day of the waning moon in Kartik. This is a day of great and general rejoicing with the Hindus, in which the Mohammedans, also, to some extent, participate. The whole city is illuminated; and even the poorest man lights his little chirág or tiny lamp, and places it before his door. The wells, and temples, and idols, and, indeed, every spot of any interest at all to the natives, is decorated with one or more of these lamps. Sweetmeats and parched grain are distributed amongst friends, and are given to the poor. The festival is in honour of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. During the night of the Díwálí, it is the custom with all the people, high and low, and of every caste, to gamble;
and many persons who will not gamble at any other time will do so at this season.
The custom has a most demoralizing and vicious influence on the minds of the people generally.
28. The Yamadwitíyá (vulgarly, Jamditiya) Melá, held at Jam Ghát, on the 2nd day of Kártik, light fortnight. This festival has reference to the mutual attachment of Yama and his sister Yamí; and, accordingly, brothers, on this day, receive from their sisters the tilak or religious symbol affixed to the forehead, and join in their entertainments, hoping thereby to escape the miseries of hell. They first bathe in the Ganges at Jam Ghát, and then dine at the houses of their sisters, giving them presents in return. To bathe in the river Jumna on this day is, also, believed to have the same effect of delivering from future punishment.
29. The Kártik Púrņimá Melá, held at the Panch Gangá Ghát, on the last day of Kártik. During the whole of this month it is regarded as specially meritorious to bathe at this ghát every morning at sunrise. On the last day multitudes bathe here; and, in the evening, the ghát is illuminated. Formerly pugilistic combats used to take place; but they have now ceased.
30. The Barná Piyala Melá, held at Chaukhá Ghát and Sivapur, on the 1st Tuesday or Saturday of Aghan. People of the lower castes resort to Chaukhá Ghát, and there offer wine or sherbet, mixed with bháng, -a highly intoxicating drug much eaten by the Brahmans, -in honour of Kalká and Sahjá, the former being a Brahman woman, and the latter a chamáyin, or woman of