Held in Gaya,the holy city of Bihar, Pitru Paksha Mela or Pitra Paksha Mela is an annual event that is attended by people from across the country, in order to perform the Shraadh ritual. This ritual holds great significance as, during this time, our ancestors are worshipped.
Shraadh ceremony is also called the Pinda Daan, a rite that is believed to bring salvation to our ancestors and is also an obligatory ritual in the Hindu culture. Overall, Pitru Paksha Mela is an annual event that is of much value not just to the people of Bihar but beyond as well.
Gaya is one of the holiest places in the world and hence celebrating Pitru Paksha Mela is considered even more sacred if done here. The event happens mainly in September, ahead of Navaratri.
History of Pitru Paksha Mela
The origin of Pitru Paksha Mela can be traced back to as old as the time of Buddha. It is said that he was the first one to offer Pinda Daan in Gaya. However, there are other legends too that have a deep connection with Pitru Paksha Mela.
As per the Hindu mythology, a demon or Asura, named Gaya, became so powerful that even devs started to feel intimidated by him. Perceiving him as a potent threat, they decided to kill him.
The devs succeeded in destroying him but Gaya had one last wish – he wanted to be laid to rest in the holiest city on the planet. That city is now called Gaya. The Pitru Paksha Mela is held every year to celebrate rituals on these lines only.
Major Attractions of Pitru Paksha Mela
1. Holy Dip
It is amazing to witness the love of people for their loved ones who are no more alive. They perform all the rituals with utmost devotion including taking a dip in the holy waters of the River Ganges.
2. Food Offerings
People make food offerings for their ancestors. The food usually includes Lapsi, Kheer, dal, yellow gourd, the vegetable of spring bean, and rice. The food is cooked in copper/silver vessels and is placed on cups made of dried leaves or banana leaves. It is said that the offering is accepted if a crow flies in and eats the food, as the bird is considered to be the messenger of the ancestors’ spirits or Yama. In addition, Brahmin priests, a dog, and a cow are also fed.
3. Worship in Temples
The holy city has many ancient temples as well, which are worshipped by people coming from all over India. Especially during Pitru Paksha Mela, people worship gods to ask for the Sadgati of their ancestors. This is also done to make their stay in the other realm easy and peaceful.
4. The Shraadh Ritual
This ritual involves pinda dana in which pinda is offered to the ancestors. The ritual guides that one should release water from their hands while standing in the river. Then Lord Vishnu, in the form of a gold effigy or Shaligram stone, and Lord Yama, the God of death, are worshipped.
How to Reach
To reach Gaya in Bihar, you will need to cover a total distance of about 1,106, 1,749, 482, 2,093 km from other Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Here are the following details on how you can reach Gaya by public transport.
Deboard at the Gaya Airport (GAY) which is located about 12 km south-west of Gaya and 5 kilometers from Bodh Gaya. The airport is fairly well connected with various other Indian cities with many prominent airlines operating to and fro. From the airport, you can easily take a cab to reach your destination.
From Delhi - Board NDLS BBS SPL from New Delhi Junction and deboard at Gaya Junction
From Kanpur - Board BKN HWH SPL from Kanpur Central and deboard at Gaya Junction
From Amritsar - Board ASR KOAA SUP SPL from Amritsar Junction and deboard at Gaya Junction
You will need to deboard at the Gaya Junction situated just 2-3 km away from the city center. This station receives direct trains at a good frequency from nearby regions. After deboarding at the station, you will need to cover the remaining distance by public transport.
The road network connecting Gaya to other nearby cities and towns is well-maintained and easily accessible. Depending upon your current location, you can plan on travelling to Gaya via various means of road transports as well like state-run/private buses, taxis, or take your own vehicle.