'Pinda daan' online? Never, say Hindu priests in Gaya | india | Hindustan Times
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'Pinda daan' online? Never, say Hindu priests in Gaya

india Updated: Jul 03, 2009 11:30 IST
Imran Khan

Priests in this Hindu holy town, where thousands of Indians go every year to perform the last rites of their ancestors - called 'pinda daan' - are up in arms against a move to introduce an online version of the ritual.

Known as pandas, the priests who have been conducting pinda daan for centuries, described the Bihar government's decision as an "interference" and an "attack on an age-old religious service".

"We fail to understand the motive to introduce online pinda daan. It is not possible because a devotee's physical presence is necessary to perform the rituals," Mahesh Prasad Gupta, a priest, told IANS.

Rajan Sijuar, another priest in this town, about 100 km from state capital Patna, said the government's decision to introduce online pinda daan was the "brainchild of those who have no knowledge of this ritual.

"A man sitting in America or Europe cannot perform pinda daan online. This offering is only possible in Gaya, nowhere else".

Last week Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi announced the government's decision to introduce a videoconferencing facility for Indians abroad for pinda daan. Modi then said that to simulate the physical presence of the devotee, the rituals would be performed through videoconferencing.

Modi said the state tourism department was preparing a special "online pinda daan package for the devotees from this season".

Pitrapaksh, the waning lunar cycle in the month of Ashwin by the Indian calendar, is considered the most auspicious for this ritual. It will start Sep 3 this year. The religious service seeks salvation of the dead from the cycle of rebirth.

Thousands of Hindus from across India and abroad gather in Gaya during the fortnight for the ritual on the banks of the Falgu river here.

"The soul keeps wandering till this ritual is performed by male descendants of the dead," priest Murari Lal said.

Devotees shave their heads as part of the ritual and take a dip in the pond called Baitarni after the rituals on the banks of the Falgu river. Some of the prayers are held at the famous Vishnupad temple named after god Vishnu. Priests, known as Gaywal-Pandas, conduct the ritual.

Legend has it that Lord Rama and his wife Sita performed this religious rite for his father, King Dasharath.