Japanese woman performs ‘pinda daan’ at GayaSeptember 11th, 2009 - 10:02 am ICT by IANS
By Imran Khan
Gaya (Bihar), Sep 11 (IANS) She isn’t Hindu, not even Indian. But there she was, a Japanese woman, performing the ‘pinda daan’ ritual for ancestors, like thousands of Indians who descend on the pilgrim town at this time of the year.
Tomoko Lee, a Tokyo resident in her late 20s, surprised many around her when she offered pinda daan here, about 100 km from state capital Patna.
“I came to India to perform the pinda daan in Gaya. I have fulfilled my wish,” she told IANS before leaving for New Delhi. According to Hindu traditions, it is a prayer and ritual for the salvation of ancestors’ souls and is usually performed by men.
It was her profession - as a researcher of Indian culture in the university of Tokyo in Japan - that got her interested in the first place. Tomoko, who is a Buddhist, said information on the internet finally led her to visit Gaya.
Needless to say, it left many surprised.
“I was stunned when a Japanese woman approached me to offer pinda daan. I think it was the first such case!” said the Hindu priest who conducted the rites for her at the bank of the Falgu river in the premises of Vishnupad temple in Gaya Wednesday.
Tomoko said her visit was an amazing experience and left her with a feeling of peace in the land of Hinduism.
What she saw in Gaya was a revelation, as she witnessed thousands of Hindus conducting the ritual daily. “I have captured the visuals in my camera; I will show them to others back in Japan,” Tomoko said.
Priest Murari Lal said: “The soul keeps wandering till this ritual is performed by male descendants of the dead.”
Pitrapaksh, a fortnight-long festival, is considered to be an auspicious time for pind daan and is observed every year in September or October.
According to officials in the Gaya district administration, more than 200,000 Hindu devotees have already performed the ritual in the first six days of the fortnight.
“Till date, more than 200,000 devotees have performed the pinda daan. It was more than what we expected as many parts of India are suffering from drought,” Gaya District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh said.
The district authorities expect the number of pilgrims to go up to 400,000. Special facilities have been provided to devotees to perform pinda daan.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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