What is Pind Daan?
Pind Daan is a Hindu ritual to honor departed ancestors and invoke their blessings. The word means ‘the offering which satisfies’. This offering is a mixture of water and gingelly seeds. The offering is given to 3 generations of father, grandfather, and great grandfather, and their wives. Both the paternal and maternal ancestors are included. Only a person whose father is dead can perform Tharpanam.
According to Hindu belief, our ancestors reside in Pitru Loka for a while after they die before being reborn or attaining salvation and ascending to heaven. There are 3 Pitru devas in Pitru Loka – Vasu, Rudra, and Adithya. When we make offerings to our ancestors, these gods receive them, and through them, the offerings reach the ancestors. Pitru Loka is supposedly on the side of the Moon that is not visible to us. This side is exposed to the Sun on New Moon days. This is the lunchtime for the Pitrus, who are completely dependent on the food offered by their progeny. The feeding happens through Pind Daan. If we do not offer Pind Daan, the Pitrus will be unhappy, and they will curse us.
Shraddh, Asthi Visarjan, and Pind Daan are some of the rituals associated with death in Hinduism. Pind Daan ritual is for honoring ancestors and helping their souls attain salvation. Lord Brahma supposedly began this practice. Pind Daan is important as it helps liberate the departed soul from suffering and brings peace to the survivors. If the ceremony is not done, the departed souls have to live in hell, and their surviving family members will have no peace in their lives as they will be beset by problems.
Hindus perform Pind Daan at certain places that are very holy and auspicious for this ritual. The ceremony includes Pooja and chanting of Mantras. Alms are given to the poor as well. There are many places in India that are much sought after for Pind Daan ceremonies.
Let us see the top 10 places which are popular for doing Pind Daan.
Pind Daan Locations in India
Varanasi lies on the banks of the holiest river, Ganga. The city is a renowned pilgrimage center, too. It is supposedly the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Most people perform the ceremony at Ganga Ghat with the help of local Brahmin Pandits who chant Mantras. The offering or Pind comprises rice mixed with wheat flour, milk, and honey. There are seven offerings or Pinds. While one is for the soul of the departed for whom one conducts the ceremony, the rest are for the ancestors.
Gaya is located in Bihar. Here, people usually perform Pind Daan on the banks of the Falgu River, which is supposedly an embodiment of Lord Vishnu. After one takes a dip in the holy river, the Brahmin priests perform the ceremony on one of the 48 platforms available here. The Pind comprises balls of rice with oats, wheat flour, and dried milk. Mantras are chanted during the ceremony. The ritual can free the departed soul from torment and give it eternal peace.
3. Brahma Kapal, Badrinath
The Brahma Kapal Ghat is in Badrinath, Uttarakhand. It lies on the banks of the Alaknanda. It is very auspicious for Pind Daan ceremonies. The rituals are similar to those in other places. According to local legend, Lord Brahma resides here, and those who do Pind Daan for departed souls at this place can get salvation from the birth-death cycle. Mythology says that Lord Shiva got relief from the sin of Brahmahatya here. He had incurred the curse when he decapitated the 5th head of Lord Brahma, and the head became stuck to his finger. It finally fell to the ground at this place.
4. Sannihit Sarovar, Kurukshetra
Sannihit Sarovar is in Thanesar in Kurukshetra district, Haryana. This lake is supposedly the confluence of seven holy rivers. So it is very auspicious for Pind Daan ceremonies. This is supposedly Lord Vishnu’s permanent abode. Legend says that all the Tirthams gather here on Amavasya day and that those who perform Shradh here during a solar eclipse and take a bath in this tank can get the rewards of performing 1000 Ashwamedh sacrifices. People who visit this place can get information about their ancestors from the local priests or Pandas who have been keeping records of pilgrims for ages.
As per legend, the holy lake at Pushkar in Rajasthan sprang from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Some believe that it was born when Brahma dropped a lotus flower here. There are 52 ghats here, as well as bathing platforms where devotees perform Pind Daan, usually in Ashwin (September-October) month.
6. Avantika, Shaktipeeth Tirth, Ujjain
This place is in Madhya Pradesh near Ujjain on the banks of the Shipra River. It is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas and is dedicated to Goddess Durga, worshipped as Maa Avanti or Avantika. As per legend, Sati’s upper lip fell here.
7. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Mathura is a famous pilgrimage city and the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a preferred location for Hindu death rituals. These take place at the Vishranti Tirth, Bodhini Tirth, or Vayu Tirth on the banks of the Yamuna river.
8. Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh
Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Rama. It is a very holy city and one of the most preferred destinations for Pind Daan ceremonies. It is at Bhaat Kund, which lies on the banks of the holy Sarayu river, that Hindus perform these rituals with the help of a Brahmin priest. Just as in the other places, 7 Pinds of rice balls are made and offered to the ancestral souls. The rice is mixed with milk, sesame seeds, oats, and honey. After taking a dip in the river, people perform the rituals. They also give alms to the poor before returning home.
9. Siddhpur, Gujarat
Siddhpur in Gujarat is a famous pilgrim center with many temples and ashrams. The holy Bindu lake here supposedly formed from the tears of Lord Vishnu. The city is near the banks of the Saraswati River, that has vanished now. Pind Daans are conducted on the shores of the Bindu Sarovar, and most people prefer the Kapil Muni Ashram for performing such rituals.
10. Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh is among the holiest pilgrimage spots in India. It is where we see the Triveni Sangam, or the confluence of three holy rivers, Saraswati, Yamuna, and Ganga. This is where the death rituals take place. People believe that bathing in the waters here removes all sins and frees the soul from the birth-death cycle.
For Pind Daan ceremonies, New Moon days or Amavasya days are most suitable. Aadi Amavasya/Aadi Amavasai, or the New Moon in the Tamil month of Aadi (July-August), is one of the best days for such ceremonies. In 2022, it falls on July 28.