Patna: Over 500,000 Hindu devotees have come to Bihar`s Gaya town to perform the `pinda daan` ritual for ancestors, officials said Thursday.
"Till date more than five lakh devotees have performed the pinda daan. It was more than what we expected in view of the drought in several states across India," an official of the Gaya district administration told reporters.
The district authorities said they had estimated that 400,000 devotees would come to Gaya to perform pinda daan during pitrupaksh, a fortnight-long ancestor worship period. But the numbers of devotees have crossed 50,000 already.
"Two days are still to go to offer pinda daan during the pitrupaksh period," an official said.
Special facilities as well as tight security arrangements have been made for the devotees.
Magadh Commissioner Sanjeev Sinha said: "This time gathering of devotees was more than last year, it was a positive sign".
Pinda daan was also offered for the king of pop Michael Jackson in Gaya by Suresh Narayan, even though he never met the singer.
"On Sunday I offered pinda daan for the salvation of Michael Jackson as a tribute to him," said Narayan.
Hindus believe offering pinda daan ensures salvation for the souls of their ancestors.
"The soul keeps wandering till this ritual is performed by male descendants of the dead," Murari Lal, a priest said.
Pinda daan is traditionally offered by Hindus, but historical records available with priests show that some Muslims also performed the ritual in the past.
Gaya is about 100 km from state capital Patna.