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Annual Fairs held upon the Banks of Sacred Streams in India.
Before setting out on our journey towards the Himalaya we formed once more an agreeable party to visit the Marble Rocks of the Nerbudda at Bheraghat. It was the end of Kartik, when the Hindoos hold fairs on all their sacred streams at places consecrated by poetry or tradition as the scene of some divine work or manifestation. These fairs are at once festive and holy; every person who comes enjoying himself as much as he can, and at the same time seeking purification from all past transgressions by bathing and praying in the holy stream, and making laudable resolutions to be better for the future. The ceremonies last five days, and take place at the same time upon all the sacred rivers throughout India; and the greater part of the whole Hindoo population, from the summits of the Himalaya mountains to Cape Comorin, will, I believe, during these five days, be found congregated at these fairs. In sailing down the Ganges one may pass in the course of a day half a dozen such fairs, each with a multitude equal to the population of a large city, and rendered beautifully picturesque by the magnificence and variety of the tent equipages of the great and wealthy. The preserver of the universe (Bhagvan) Vishnu is supposed, on the 26th of Asarh, to descend to the world below (Patal) to defend Raja Bali from the attacks of Indra, to stay with him four months, and to come up again on the 26th Kartik. During his absence almost all kinds of worship and festivities are suspended; and they recommence at these fairs, where people assemble to hail his resurrection.