Gaya: Thousands of Hindus began conducting the `pindadaan` ritual -- seeking salvation for their ancestors -- in this pilgrim town Thursday but the Ayodhya dispute verdict expected Friday cast its long shadow here.
The day `Pitrapaksh` began -- the fortnight-long period is designated for offering `pindadaan`, thousands of Hindus from India and abroad gathered in this town, about 100 km from state capital Patna.
Gaya district magistrate Sanjay Singh told that pindadaan formally began Thursday, but security is tight in view of the Allahabad High Court verdict due Friday on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit contested by Hindu and Muslim groups. The issue is seen as an emotive one.
"We are taking no chances on the security front as thousands have gathered here for pindadaan," Singh said.
However, priests, locally known as pandas who conduct pindadaan ritual, say this time fewer people are expected to come because of the drought and floods in the country.
Pindadaan is traditionally made on the banks of the Falgu river here. The 15 days of the waning moon during the Hindu month of Ashwin are known as Pitrapaksh.
According to Hindu belief, the soul wanders after death until pindadaan is performed. "The soul keeps wandering till this ritual is performed by male descendants of the dead," priest Murari Lal said.
It is mandatory for Hindu devotees offering pindadaan to tonsure their heads, take a holy dip and head for the Baitarni pond. However, some rituals are conducted in the Falgu river nearby.
The prayers are performed at the famous Vishnupad temple named after Hindu god Vishnu. Priests, known as Gaywal-pandas conduct the ritual. The ritual was officially launched Sunday by Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary at the temple.
Legend has it that Lord Rama and his wife Sita performed this religious rite here for his father King Dasharath.