Once we returned, the thaathaa came to our room and started explaining the process that will be done the next day. He was very meticulous in his ways and had all the details that he had to inform us written down in a notebook and the details of payments that need to be done (not too much , but the ones to be given during the ceremony). He also explained why each of these rituals had to be done, what is their significance etc.
Seems like when we do the shraddham at home, we say “gaya, gaya, gaya” three times (I have no idea half the time about what he was talking about, but my dad seemed to understand it every word) and now that we are in gaya that will not be used. Also how they always say of Akshaya vatam and that we will actually doing the pind-dhaan in akshaya vatam tree etc etc. Also why akshaya vatam is very important in the pind-dhaan process/ritual. Then we went off to a deep slumber as we have to start early again tomorrow.
The story of Gaya and the Asura on whose name this place is called is depicted in this picture:
Gayasuran was a good but invincible asura and obviously the other devas were paranoid about it and they complained to Vishnu and he in turned asked Gayasuran to give him a place to do some yagna and he offered himself for that. Because Gayasuran was a good guy Vishnu offered him a wish by which the whole place where he laid would be called as Gaya (after his name) and that it would be a holy place. Also the place where Vishnu stood on his heart is the Vishnu padham temple. I guess you could get more detailed story of the same if you browse, but this is the gist of it
The story of Akshaya vatam goes like this
As part of Ramayan (after Sita is rescued by Ram), Ram , Sita and Lakshman come to Gaya to offer shraddham to King Dasaratha. At that time, Phalguni river was there. Ram and Lakshman crossed the river and went to get a few things for the shraddham. Varuna deva who was very happy that Lord Ram has come there, started flowing and as a result, the Phalguni river was overflowing and since Ram was in human form, he couldnt cross the river and got stuck on the other side. Meanwhile, time was running out (they say that you should do the shraddham in the specific thithi in which the person died) and Sita did not want to let the time go, so she started doing the shraddham formalities (eppadi.. andha kalathuleye idhellam nadandhiriku…. namma kitta irundhu maraichutaanga..I wonder when the concept of women not giving devasam started if such a thing was already done during Ramayana times…!!!). Lord Dasaratha’s soul which was very hungry, came up from the ground and asked his daughter in law to give him food soon. Once she was done with the rituals, she kept Thulasi, Phalguni, a Cow, a Gaya Brahman and Akshaya vatam tree as witnesses and she gave pindam to her father in law. Her father in law was a happy soul now and he went back to his peace. Now after some time Ram and Lakshman came back and when Sita told him about what happened, he wasnt convinced, so he gave pindam again, but his father did not come to get it from him. Knowing that this would happen, Sita called her witnesses.
Thulasi lied (for whatever reason) that she didnt notice. Cow said that it went for grazing and hence did not notice either if Sita gave the pindam to Lord Dasaratha. Phalguni river said that since it was flowing, it did not notice too. The Gaya Brahman , who wanted to get more dakshina from Ram too, said that Sita did not give pindam. The Akshaya vatam tree confirmed that it did saw Sita giving pindam to her father in law and that her father in law accepted the same. Now on hearing this Ram was convinced. But Sita was very angry. So she cursed the four who lied. That is the reason that a) thulasi in gaya is devoid of fragrance b) phalguni river is devoid of water and is dry always c) the cow in gaya will have to be worshipped from the back and not from the front and d) the gaya brahman is never happy with what he has and will always beg for more. She also declared that people who give pinda-dhaan under Akshaya vatam will be blessed and that the pind-dhaan will reach the souls.
Day 2 started off with rituals in the sankara mdam and then taking the cooked rice we went to Vishnu padham temple and did the rituals there. This is where we prepare the pindam for all we know who are dead, till three generations earlier. This is where more importance is given to the maternal lineage also. I was glad that my dad gave one pindam for our dear dog. You can give pindam to all the near and dear ones who have departed us and who have played a role in our lives. Also if your mother is no more, then you have to give special pindams for her for the trouble you have caused her since your inception. (I liked that part) . It is reminiscence time. This is the Akshaya vatam temple which is very very old.
After that we went for the Darshan of the Vishnu padham temple. We can see the phalguni river and the Sita temple beyond that.
Then we went back to the mdam and did some other rituals and finally, went by car to the Akshaya vatam and did the pind-dhaan there
There were other temples nearby to Akshaya vatam. We did not find time to go there. Also there was a school nearby so it was very crowded. Even though this place is of high importance, people sit in large numbers and beg. There was even a fight that got started among the ladies related to the amount being split.. Ada kadavule. And as usual, it was dirty. Though there were ladies assigned to keep it clean, they keep asking for money and do not do the cleaning work. There was a small krishna temple and a hanuman temple in the bottom of that tree.
After doing the pind-dhaan, we returned back to the mdam and completed the rituals and had our devasa saapaadu by around 1.30 pm. They also packed us some vadai for night (we should not be eating out ideally). At around 2.30 pm or so we started on our way to Kaasi (Varanasi) to complete our 3rd day rituals.
Everyone told us that Gaya would be the dirtiest place among the three. But it turned out, that this was the comparatively tidier than the others. The highways is one of the best we have been on. summa sallunu 120 varaikum poanaaru driver uncle. chance illa. There was some checking in the border though and that took us some 15-20 mins to complete. Also we saw the place where the detour to Bodh Gaya happens. Bodh Gaya is the Buddhist place and it forks on the way to Gaya. See the arch in the picture below. This is the entrance to Bodh Gaya. Since we did not plan for that, we skipped it. But I would like to visit Bodh Gaya once. There is also an airport which is seldom used by VIPs. The driver was telling us that Dalai Lama was scheduled to visit sometime this month or next month.
I was some how more satisfied and happy with the rituals performed here and rested on our way back in the car.
Yet to come is the final ritual day in Kaasi.