As I choose to write my first-ever post, I select a place named Gaya in the state of Bihar. Gaya is a wonderful place, and is a city “frozen” in time. It is wide known that the Indians take pride in their family values; how they have taken care of their parents and also the vice versa. But I have often wondered, how such family values would have developed in a civilisation?
One of the answers, I found was in an age old ritual at Gaya, of offering “Gaya Sraddha”. This ritual in its core, connects the current generation with its old generation or its ancestors. A person would come to Gaya, may be first or the only time in his life, for his ancestors. He does not belong to this place, yet performs this ritual (it might take from 1 day to 30 days) in a constant dialogue with himself. Imagining his state of mind, wherein he is constantly in the memories of his lost father, grandfather and many more (who he may not have even seen).
One can only imagine the experience one might have, performing this ritual? One is expected to lead a pious life during this period, and be devoid of any worldly pleasure, even cook yourself. While remembering the relationships with your father, you might make many confessions to him, silently! You might break down, cry in a corner … might make certain resolutions for the future. But sure, you would be relieved and recharged, after you established this connect. All this ’emotional’ and very ‘personal’ exchanges happen, in this unknown place. What a strange city! A city, that can make you cry! I often think, the importance of this experience and the moral upliftment, this city contributes?
In the displayed picture, a son is performing this ritual “Pind daan” for his father at Gaya. He is accompanied by his wife and his son. Irrespective of the varied regions in India, its languages and sub- cultures, this son pays homage to his parents at Gaya. What kind of an example the ritual presents to the society? What should his children learn from this experience? Would it not motivate them to continue with these core Indian values, of having a connect with our old parents? I often remember my father telling my mother, that she should treat my grandmother the way she expected her to be treated as she gets old.
I was bewildered to learn one written account from the Cambridge University Library. A person named as Veeraswamy, came to Gaya from Madras in 1830. There were no Airport then, nor were any trains or even the vehicles on roads. He travelled often by foot, and it took him 15 months to perform this ritual or pilgrimage and return back. He also writes that it was not only him, but more than 1,00,000 people came to Gaya in 1811, to perform this ritual. I wonder, what would have been the “emotion” to travel this far? What do we say about this Hindu belief that “a son, is a son only when he perform this ritual at Gaya”, for his ancestors? Has this contributed to the Indian Values? If it has, what should Indian Tourism do today, to make more people visit Gaya, and inherit these values?
There are many examples, which indicate the people have always travelled in India, often have been guided by such emotions. We all know that religious tourism is the biggest factor for domestic tourism in India. Do you also feel the essence of Indian Tourism is “in being emotional”?
I feel that this is how, India can be experienced best! In its core values, Indian Tourism has a lot to offer to this world.
Gaya article is interesting and well written.
I am doing my mother Sraddha since 1983 and father’s for 14 years. I must have remembered Gaya Sraddha for atleast 50+ times during these days and connects me quickly into what you seen/written.
Son is a son as long as he does once a year – where ever he is, but his parents get a special place & need not do every year if he does once in Gaya!!!
thanks for your feelings about Gaya and Nakphopha family.
can you please arrange a copy of the book for me ? Thanks again.
request you to share the link of this article on your website.
Hi Vikas, good stuff, really liked reading your food blog, shows you have really gone indepth into understanding the psyche. Please keep writing.
Thank you sir.
A very commendable effort!!!
U hve rightly visualised. Singing the lores of importance of ‘Kanagat’ (Pitri Tarpan/Pind Daan) at Gaya is not to promote the international tourist trafffic to the town. It is a matter of establishing a linkage, unification and synchronisation of “Jeev” to Jeewatma” – a medium of self realisation not falling in the spheres human logic. The pind (matter/object/material) offered/sacrificed in the ‘shradh karm’ along with other ‘Hawan Samagri’ does not go waste. The characteristics of ‘indestructibility’ of matters is a proven theory of physics.Matter never gets destroyed. It remains in existence in some form of the other. Telepathy on the other hand is also an established scientific n psychological phenomenon. Shradh(offerings) performed with full belief, dedication and ‘shraddha’ hasto have its effect when the soul never dies. Scriptures say, – “If you do not believe in Atma, no proof is sufficient, if you believe in it, no proof is required”. Priti Shradh at Gaya has changed the concept of human beings after the Shradh what they were before. It is solely a question of ‘atmdarshan’.
This blessing coupled with sugar coating of tourism is purely aimed at universal well being.
Hope to hear more frm u in future at such young age. This in itself is an achievement!!!!
Thank you for your lavish compliment.
However, Giaya has certain more aspects for your information, like:-
1. The “Andar Gaya” was a medivial town made in 1563. Fortified, with moats around and four entrance gates.
2. This ritual of Pind Daan has been practiced since thousands of years. Whereas, Buchanan refers that about 1,00,000 people visited Gaya in 1911, O’Maily mentions 3,00,000 pilgrims in 1906. Even today more than 6 lacs pilgrims come from all over the country.
3. Ancient documentation shows there were more than 300 vedies where performed. Today only about 15 are known.
4. All houses in Andar Gaya have three floors. for Jajman, Mehman, Pakwan and the top floor had a toilet
5. Entire Andar Gaya has 14 mohallas and 14 baithaks (community centers). May be it is the earlist example of neigbourhood planning.
6. These baitaks have a rich legacy of Art & Culture
Interestingly, more than 70% percent of the Built fabric and the stuctures still remain.
I personally feel, it is an appropriate case to be declared as a UNESCO world heritage cultural landscape. I have a detailed study on the same, do not know the right approach/contacts, to take it forward.
Sorry for a factual error, in point two
2. Whereas, Buchanan refers that about 1,00,000 people visited Gaya in 1811, O’Maily mentions 3,00,000 pilgrims in 1906.
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Well written Vikash! Highly thought provoking article. Religious tourism or pilgrimage whatever one may like to call it , is certainly driven by emotion to a great extent.
Keep writing particularly on Gaya if you have access to authentic reference maerial like the GAZETEER. Lt Col Vidya Sharma Of Guljana writes blogs on tekari Raj and history of Guljana village. He has come out with a very authentic book on Tekari Raj which is available in soft copy also. If you are interested I can send you that.
Interesting start…………….Indeed an emotional – connect……………
i do, however, believe that we should try and keep this connection unspoilt by keeping commercialisation at bay……….
looking forward to more such experiences……….
touching blog.. Keep writing
A very interesting thought, what is Indian tourism all about, and what is the core market, if there is such a thing in terms of Indian tourism.
I would think that you can do a structured series on this, Indian tourism for the escapist westerner, one for the escapist Indian, an series of India tourism and emotion covers and bit on religion and spirituality and India.
Look forward to more thoughts from you.
Is Indian Tourism about being emotonal?, well… dont know if it is all about that but yeah it could be one of the driver…
Just tourism is driven by some or the other emotion like fun, love, peace etc… here we are talking of a much deeper feeling… “connection at an alien land” yeah..
it works for gaya… i guess
Thank you for your reply. Religious tourism contributes more than 40% of domestic Indian Tourists. It works not only for Gaya but for so many places, like Amritsar, Ajmer, Tirupati, Ujjain, Vaishno Devi, Varanasi, Puri, etc. What I really intend is to undersatnd the uniqueness of these places, which require “spaces” which compliment these emotions, beliefs & rituals.
Indian Tourism has a great depth, and thats its USP. While dealing with these places, I feel one needs to be sensative to these emotions.
Bro. It’s a good start, and I wish you all the very best and I take the liberty to write the following if you don’t mind:
“A tourist is half a pilgrim, if a pilgrim is half a tourist” – is a powerful anthropological statement. Spiritually motivated travel, as may be old as spiritual believes themselves, can be regarded as the oldest form of tourism. The only distinction between tourist and pilgrim may lie in displayed behaviours as it is observed that only the ‘existential tourist’ truly accepts and immerses himself in a culture outside his own and appreciates the complex meaning or symbols and rituals practiced. More often the arrogant and out of place behaviour of tourists, which often results in equal reciprocal reaction from the host communities, clearly distinguishes the pilgrim from the tourist.
Existential tourist is on a self-discovery, a search for existential authenticity which is a state of meaning to oneself and being. Such opportunities for pursuits can be produced or pursued through tourism activities which are a challenge for planners to examine how it is understood and how the industry creates opportunities to encounter one’s authentic self. Though both tourist and pilgrim are essentially questing for the same; fulfilment of their innermost wishes; A majority of mass tourists are either fully centered in their physical home and therefore travel mostly for recreation and curiosity or they largely decentered and travel because it serves as a temporary distraction from an already alienated home existence.
In this context, you can also look at a large community of NON Resident Indians or displaced communities within India for whom, home/homeland becomes a significant tourist attraction, as people are drawn to and seek out places that hold special personal and often more authentic meaning not only to themselves but to demonstrate to a global unattached and insensitive young generation to cultivate a dialogue with oneself; and if possible with those who walked this way before them as a source of inspiration and motivation while they carry their blood line to this last man standing.
I believe that, finding identity is the single most human motivational driver, even in a gloablised flat world, all are at denial but in fact searching their lost identity and most on matters that set them apart.
Hello Issac sir,
I would to share a comment given on this blog. It refers to a song by musician alanis morisette called ‘thank you’ in which she ‘thanks’ india for uplifting her emotionally and spiritually, she wrote the song just after her trip to the country.. sharing it below..
Wonderful song. It makes you realise, what Indian tourism has to offer. This goes much beyond, the obhious “Taj Mahal”. Its silence, its tranquility… and hidden moral lessons.
I have a book ‘Madhya Bharat ki Prachin Nagri – Gaya’ which is out of print. As per the book, the tourism (of the kind you mention) resulted in the town being at the top in terms of revenue. It is not at all surprising that the leading Gaywal-panda (priest) of his time, nicknamed ‘Nakphopha’ had a huge mansion with tennis courts. He was a patron of music and as the folklore goes, he called KL Saigal to listen personally in his baithak. You’ll find more information about this if you speak to folks from Andar-Gaya. The dharamshalas of the town, its architecture and glory say a lot about the emotional connect people had with Gaya, specially when it mattered about their forefathers.