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halla or ward, near the temple of the same name, every Sunday in the month of Sáwan. In one of the numerous courts of the temple is a well in which is a mineral spring, an account of which, written by Mr. James Prinsep, is found in the Asiatic Researches. The reason assigned by the Hindus for the medicinal virtues of the well is curious. It is said that Dhanwantari, a great Hindu physician of antiquity, threw his medicine bag into the spring; hence the healing virtues which it is believed to have acquired. The water is used by the natives both for bathing and drinking, as a remedy for diseases of all kinds, but especially for those affecting the skin. Near the well is a reservoir, a few feet deep, of dirty and refuse water, called Amțit Kund or Well of Immortality. This is also held to be of great virtue in removing cutaneous diseases of a contagious character, and likewise leprosy. Sick persons, first of all, bathe in the filthy water of this reservoir, and afterwards wash their bodies with the water of the well.
14. The Durga Melá, held at Durga Kund or Tank, every Tuesday in Sáwan. Durga Kund and the temple being in the suburbs of the city, with many spacious gardens in their vicinity, the people avail themselves of this melá, which occurs at the commencement of the rainy season, to visit the gardens and enjoy themselves. Upwards of thirty thousand persons are present on the last Tuesday of the month.
15. The Fátima Melá, held at the Dargáh of Fátima, every Thursday in Sáwan. The Mohammedans have instituted this festival in imitation of the Hindus. Dancing girls, from the city, appear in their gay dresses and brilliant jewels; and, consequently, the place is, for the most part, the resort of persons of voluptuous habits. Indeed, persons of respectable character will take care not to be found there.
16. The Nág-Panchami Melá, held at Nág Kúán or Serpent's Well, on the fifth day of Sáwan. This well is spoken of, in Hindu writings, as Kárkotak Nág Tírth or Place of Pilgrimage. Hindus of all ranks, and of both sexes, attend the melá, and bathe in the well, returning quickly to their homes; and only persons of loose character prolong their stay. As snakes increase in this season, and as Nág is regarded as the serpentgod, the people worship him as a security against snakebites. It is common to purchase idols representing this deity, and to carry them home for worship. In the evening of the day, cowherds, or people of the Ahír caste, assemble together in various places, for wrestling and other sports.
17. The Kajrí Melá, held at Sankudhárá, and also at Íswar-gangi, on the 3rd day of Bhádon. This festival is said to have originated with a Raja of Kantit, in the district of Mirzapore, who established it for the benefit of women, that they might have a melá especially their own. There is a song called Kajrí, which is commonly sung during the months of Sáwan and Bhádon. At this melá women fast, and bathe in groups,
in places of reputed sanctity. Gangs of Gunahrís, female singers of a very low and abandoned character, visit Sankudhára and Iswar-gangi, singing Kajri songs to the bathers. Men of the same yicious tastes also 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 Bhádon. 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 Chitrkot, to witness the dramatic performance of the Báwan Avatár or Dwarf Incarnation of Vishnu.
21. The Anant Chaudas Melá, held at Rámnagar, 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 Suraya Melá, held at Lakshmi Kund or Tank, from the 8th of Bhadon 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 Lakshmí, 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 Rámáyana, 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 nilkanth 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 Durga, and then worship them. On the day called Dasamí, there is a procession of idols at the Daśášamedh 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