Gaya (Bihar), Sep.25 : Bihar floods have marred the annual Pitripaksha Mela in Gaya, when Hindus offer Pinda Daan to perform Shraadh (a death ritual) for the departed soul of ancestors.
Pitripaksha is an occasion when Hindus pay tributes to their departed ancestors by offering Pind Daan (cooked food) on the banks of River Sarayu, to the crows, the cows and Brahmins.
Gaya is reckoned as a sacred place for this offering and Lord Rama is believed to have performed this Vedic ritual on the banks of River Sarayu. But, this year, there has been a very low turnout of people here from different parts of the country.
And, one of the most affected people due to low turnout of visitors has been the local traders' community.
Locals including Pandas (priests), lodge owners, shops selling Puja items and other things, have lost considerable amount of their possible income that they would have otherwise earned from visitors during the 'Pitripaksha Mela'.
"Many people used to visit this Mela but this year the crowd seems to be not over 15,000 to 20,000 because of the floods," said Chotelal, a local trader.
Traders who have invested in procuring items for use during the mela are in distress, as the items are not being sold.
Visitors from within the State as well as those from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal and even Nepal intending to offer the Pind Daan have not made it to Gaya this year.
"It is an unfortunate moment that this year River Kosi flooded and destroyed about 920 villages and affected thousands of families in northern Bihar. Even we, who haven't experienced the floods, are hit by the absence of visitors. Indeed it is a pity that many have suffered," said Ramachari, a Panda (priest).
Many Pandas and traders set up their kiosks at the Mela for which they had to pay nominal registration fees and rentals to the District administration. In the absence good earnings, local residents here have been a worried lot.
Shraadh is to the ritual performed by a Hindu to offer homage to one's deceased ancestors (Pitri). It is believed that after the performance of the ritual, the soul of the dead relative is appeased and it attains Moksha (salvation).
The ritual is performed every year on the death anniversary of the person as per the Panchang or during the dark fortnight called Pitri Paksha. By Surya Pratap SinghANI)