The Hindu concept of moksha may offer deliverance from the eternal cycle of birth and death but it seems even that cannot offer liberation from inflation and free fall of the rupee this year.
Millions of Hindus who are likely to reach Gaya to perform ‘pinddaan’ during the fortnight-long ‘pitra paksh’ mela this month will have to pay more because of inflation and rupee crash.
The mela begins September 20 and will conclude on October 5 this year. During this period, devotees undertake ‘pinddaan’ rituals on the bank of Falgu river, near the Vishnupad temple.
This year, there has been a significant increase in the rates being quoted for the ‘pinddaan package’ at Gaya, 125km south-west of Patna, the main centre for offering obeisance to one’s ancestor.
For one, the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) has hiked the rates of its in-demand ‘pinddaan’ tour packages because of the rise in food bills, hotel charges and fuel charges.
Even ‘pinddan’ priests have hiked their rates by 15% to 20% this year.
“We have increased the package rates by about 10% owing to inflation. Most items associated with the rituals are costlier this year,” said BSTDC managing director Awadhesh Kumar.
“Transportation is much costlier this time and service tax on meals at restaurants has also increased. The rates have been revised after two years,” he explained.
For the 'same day' BSTDC budget tour package from Patna to Gaya via Punpun, pilgrims will have to pay Rs. 7,319 per head for this time as against Rs. 6,000 in 2012.
If one plans to avail deluxe facilities like transportation by an air-conditioned vehicle and AC room at hotels, one will have to pay Rs. 9,409.
For those who want to combine visits to heritage sites and monuments with ‘pinddaan’ rituals at Gaya, the BSTDC is offering a two-day, one night package.
For this combination trip, the budget pilgrims will have to shell out Rs. 10,085. With deluxe facilities, this package is being offered for Rs. 11,479.
During the trip ‘pandas’ (priests) and Puja essentials will be provided by the BSTDC. This is important as ‘pinddan’ priests sometimes quote exorbitant rates during the peak period of pitrapaksh.
“Most hotels, too, have hiked their rates by 15% or more, citing rise in overheads,” said a tour operator.