A mela, is an interesting thing. Pakistani melas are usually connected with some shrine or temple, or some place of historic or semi-religious character. People of all kinds flock together on the date fixed, and there is great hustle and bustle. Men, women (sometimes), and children dressed in their best reach the place in time to enjoy and be happy. It is a great holiday, and introduces a welcome change in their humdrum and monotonous life. They are glad to get away form the dull routine of daily toil, even though it be for a day. The glittering silk of a city beauty contrasts with the simple embroidered patka and a newly washed chadar of a swain. Both look gay, and strut an inch above the ground, and think the eye of an admiring multitude are fixed on them.
Shops and booths are set up on both sides of the road, where one may buy anything and everything. There are toy shops for children, and these are very largely patronized, next, of course, to the confectioners’ shops, whose heaps of Jalebis and Laddus vanish in no time under the depredations of the village people who get such chances but once a year. The women and little girls may be seen eagerly making bargains over little trinkets and haberdashery, pins, brooches, etc with which they deck their persons.[the_ad id=”17141″]The medley crowd is an interesting study. The dress representing all the colours of the rainbow, and the endless pretty of cut and fashion, and the behaviour of the people under the excitement of merriment, present a very amusing sight, indeed. The dancing and singing, and the throwing up of sticks, the wild gesticulations, the loud and weird shouts are the peculiar features of a mela.
Here you see the merry-go-rounds whirling and twirling in the air with their creaking sound, there you have rope dancers and acrobats performing wonderful feats to the accompaniment of drums. In a corner, you find a crowd gathered, more eager and quiet than the rest. You go and see; it is a minstrel reciting in a drawling sing-song fashion the story of Hir Ranja or a Mirza Sahiban. While he sings, two play on the lutes, the fourth one explains the story at intervals to the multitude lost in ecstasy which the romantic love story has produced in them.
There is a whirl of gaiety and pleasure, great noise, and an air of devil-may-care indifference. Everyone seems to have abandoned himself to the enjoyment. All cares have been banished for the moment. In the midst of this frivolity and merriment, you may, also, see the missionary or the preacher speaking about the solemn duties of life in earnest tones to a small and listless company. At evening, the crowd disperses, and a stream of village people, rich with the spoils of the day, may be seen wending their way homewards through the fields.