|Vishnupad Temple, Gayaji|
“In Vayupuran, according to a narration titled Gaya Mahatam, when creating mankind, Brahma created a demon named Gayasur. The demon went atop the kolahal Mountain and offered great penance to Lord Vishnu. Pleased with Gayasur, Lord Vishnu asked him to seek one blessing. So,Gayasur requested that whoever came in touch with him - be it an angel or a demon, an insect, a sinner, a saint or a sage, or an evil spirit - should find salvation after having been purified of all sins. From that day everyone who came in touch with him found salvation and proceeded to vaikunth (abode of Lord Vishnu).”
It is believed that it was Lord Brahma who first performed the pind daan ceremony in Gaya. Since then this tradition has continued. Offering pind daan during the dark fortnight of Ashvin (9 Sep to 23 Sep 2014) is of special significance. Symbolically a pind is a round ball made of a mixture of wheat and rice flour with some sesame seeds mixed along with some milk and honey. Seven balls are made out of 100 grams of flour. Of these, one is offered to the deceased and the rest to others as desired.
Earlier pind daan was performed around the year. There were 360 platforms where pind daan was done with wheat and oat flour mixed with dried milk. Pind daan is also performed symbolically with mud balls. Presently pind daan is performed at Vishnu temple, Akshay,Vat,Phalgu and Punpun river, Ramkund, Sitakund, Brahm Mangalpuri, Kagbali, and with the five pilgrimages they together make 48 platforms where pind daan is performed.
In the Kurmpuran, 34/7-8, it is said:
“All forefathers appreciate a pilgrimage to Gaya by their successors. Once the pind daan is performed in Gaya, one achieves salvation. One becomes free of rebirth. If one visits Gaya even once and offers pind daan, the forefathers become free from hell and other dreadful destinations and achieve salvation.”
In the Kurmpuran it is also said that whoever goes to Gaya for pind daan is blessed and seven generations from the paternal and maternal side are benefited along with the personal self who achieves salvation.
Only a son or another male relative is authorised to offer pind daan. However,in 1985, the Brahmins of Mithila authorised women relatives also to offer pind daan. It is said that once Sita(Wife of Lord Rama) too offered pind daan after Dasrath(Father of Lord Rama) died.