Gaya is a holy place in the state of Bihar. People from all over the country gather in this place for the famous Pitrapaksha Mela or the ancestor worship symbolized in Shraddha ritual. It is the time for the Gayalis who are the descendents of Magga Brahmins who were transformed to Vaishnavism, to be prepared for the Vedic Shraddha ceremonies or the ‘Pinda Daan’. This is an obligatory Hindu rite which is supposed to bring salvation to the departed soul. In the early Dhrmashastras, it has been promulgated that the dead ancestors pray to God for a son who would offer Pinda or lymph of rice to them in Gaya.
According to history, the Pinda Daan ceremony can be traced back to the time of Buddha. Most probably he had performed the first Pinda Daan in Gaya. According to the Puranic legend also, Gaya has been described as one of the holiest places in the world. The Asura or the demon called Gaya became so powerful, that the gods felt threatened and wanted to destroy him, and as a precondition to his death, Gaya wanted to be laid to rest in the holiest spot of the world.
Time of Celebration:
The Pitrapaksha Mela in Gaya is held approximately in the month of September when people from all over the country flock to this place to offer Pinda Daan for their ancestors.