PIND DAAN at Gaya – पिंड दान
In History, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana visited Gaya for offering PIND-DAAN to their father Dasharath. In Mahabharata, the place has been identified as Gayapuri. About the origin of the name ‘Gaya’ as referred to in Vayu Purana is that Gaya was the name of a demon (Asura) whose body was pious after he performed rigid penance and secured blessings from Vishnu. It was said that the Gayasura’s body would continue to be known as Gaya Kshetra.
In practice, the karta (person who performs the shraaddha [Sanskrit: श्राद्ध ]) invites Brahmanaas (individuals who are considered to be very noble, worthy, knowledgeable, etc.) that day, imagines they are his/her parent, performs a homa, serves them with sumptuous food,and treats them with all hospitality and finally serves “pinda pradaana”. (pinda—balls made of rice, given as offerings to the Pitṛs). The Karta then gives “dakshina” (fees) to the brahmanaas. (There are various other actions done to show respect to the Brahmanaas, like washing their feet etc. during the course of shraaddha). Cows are also considered ancestors in Hinduism and during Śrāddha the practice of offering food or pinda to cows is still in vogue.
Śrāddha or Shraaddha (Sanskrit: श्राद्ध) is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith (Śraddhā). In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s ‘ancestors’ (Sanskrit: Pitṛs), especially to one’s dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. It also can be thought of as a “day of remembrance.” It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on the days they became deceased. It is performed on the death anniversary or collectively during the Pitru Paksha or Shraaddha paksha (Fortnight of ancestors)
Pind Dan can be done through out the year but it is better to perform Gaya sradha or Gaya Pind Daan during auspicious
two weeks or 18 days Pitri Paksha Mela – (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष मेला ) or 7 days, 5 days, 3 days or 1 day amawasya – अमावस्या with krishana paksh in any month.
Actually, Pind Daan can be performed at any of the banks of Holy River “Ganga” but the religious importance of performing Pind Daan take places at below cities like.
Varanasi , Badrinath , Allahabad Sangam , Kashi
Jagannath Puri, Mathura , Ayodhaya , Dwarka
Avantika , Siddhpur , Pushkar , Kurukshetra
Mokhsa (Salvation) : मोक्ष
To get salvation to departed souls, Pind-daan is a mandatory thing for all Hindus and Hinduism followers. It is believed that no work can be successfully performed without the blessing of ancestors and doing of Pind Daan ( पिंड दान ) brings the blessings of the forefathers.
In the holy text Gita, Following verse, regarding people who do not perform Shraddha,
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिन्डोदकक्रिया – [ श्रीमद भगवद गीता | Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.42 ]
Meaning : Due to the nonperformance of rituals like pinda shraddha and offering water to deceased ancestors etc. the ancestors of such people (who do not perform Shraddha) have to reside in the Hell region. This results in stagnation and no progress of the descendants.