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Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’ or a ‘fair’. It is used in the Indian subcontinent for all sizes of gatherings and can be religious, commercial, cultural or sport-related. In rural traditions melas or village fairs were of great importance. This led to their export around the world by south Asian diaspora communities wishing to bring something of that tradition to their new countries. In recent times “Mela” also popularly refers to shows and exhibitions. It can be theme-based, promoting a particular culture, art or skill. Generally in “melas” people can find eateries, entertainment activities, shops and games. The Kumbh Mela, held every twelve years, at Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain is one of the largest fairs in India, where over 60 million people gathered in January 2001, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

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