In the Urdu language, the word mela is synonymous with the word jashan. A strict dictionary definition might describe the mela as the coming together of performers and traders that create temporary encampments. It is the coming together of shopping and entertainment. A travelling mall on wheels so to speak.
But the implications of the mela go beyond just an exercise in commerce. It is a celebration that involves an entire community shedding inhibitions and coming together in a space for joy and merriment. Once relegated only to small towns and villages, the mela is making its way into the heart of Pakistani retail.
You see, during the pandemic there was a massive change in how we shop. Lockdowns and social distancing meant that retail stores suddenly found themselves down for the count and e-commerce got a massive opportunity. This led to the emergence of an extensive online retail ecosystem.
And now that the pandemic is over, many of these online retailers that made it during lockdowns now seek the advantages of physical space. Perhaps nothing has best characterised this than the growing trend of pop-up bazars.