The Romans had three words for describing gatherings of the people.
Religion is always the original pretext of these gatherings or melas, at some of which nothing is done beyond bathing in the river, or performing various superstitious ceremonies.
The peasantry preserve a grave and quiet demeanour, but they have their humble ideas of gaiety, and hold their gatherings on occasions of births or marriages.
The Quaker Act 1662 and the Conventicle Acts of 1664 and 1670, designed to enforce attendance at church, and inflicting severe penalties on those attending other religious gatherings, were responsible for the most severe persecution of all.
In the latter sense the word has come to be applied to great ceremonial gatherings like Lord Lytton's durbar for the proclamation of the queen empress in India in 1877, or the Delhi durbar of 1903.