A large number of priests have started performing “online pind-daan” for those who do not have the time to visit Bodh Gaya, Varanasi or Allahabad, the main centres where this Hindu ritual is performed.
The “pitr paksh” or the fortnight during which the offering is made to one’s ancestors, got over on Friday and according to estimates, around 500 such online offerings were made in Bodh Gaya alone and many more in Varanasi and Allahabad. Most of these requests came from those living abroad, for whom coming to India is difficult.
“We prefer the person to visit Bodh Gaya for offering the pind to his ancestors. But in special cases, when he does not have the time to come here or if he is in a foreign country, we do the rituals on his behalf and send a CD to him with a full recording of the rituals for the person’s satisfaction,” said Pandit Onkar Nath, a Bodh Gaya-based priest, who provides the online service.
To avail of the service, one needs to provide the details of the person for whom one wants to offer pind, like relationship, at what age he/she died, reason of death, place of death, time of death, scanned or hard copy of his/her photograph and name of the family members on whose behalf the puja is to be performed etc.
According to Pandit Sanjay (Lal Moharia) of Varanasi, ideally the concerned person should himself perform the rituals, but if that is not possible, there is a provision in the ancient scriptures for others to do it. “According to Garuda Purana and other religious books, anyone can perform religious rituals on your behalf. It would be considered successful and all the credit will be yours, as if you have performed them,” said the priest, who himself conducted six such pind daans during pitr-paksh.
However, there are some priests who are opposing this service, especially in Bodh Gaya. “There are some katha wachaks (those who recite religious stories) from outside, who set up their camps here during pitr-paksh and charge hefty amounts from people, ranging up to Rs 31,000 to Rs 41,000 for every pind-daan. Since most of these services are offered by the local priests, they oppose the move,” said Pandit Onkar Nath.
Pandit Sanjay said that many of the priests are not adept at communication technology like internet, WhatsApp etc., and so are not able to get “online service” requests from people, especially from foreign countries. “These are the priests who are opposing the move. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in performing the rituals ‘in absentia’ of the relative,” he said.
The priest said, instead of the CD, now every step is being recorded and sent to the “yejman” or client on WhatsApp, so that he remains updated on every aspect of the rituals.