| Devotees gather at Deo Ghat on the banks of river Falgu to perform pinddaan rituals in Gaya on Friday. Picture by Suman |
Gaya, Sept. 23: Around 3 lakh pilgrims turn up on the banks of river Falgu every year to offer pinds (food) to the souls of their ancestors during the 17-day-long Pitripaksh Mela. The victuals offered, however, often feed living human beings.
A Mahadalit community in Gaya collect the pinds offered to the departed souls and consume the food themselves.
According to tradition, each offering of pind serves one soul. These are prepared using oatmeal, black sesame, dry fruits, ghee and condensed milk. After the pilgrims leave, members of an impecunious Mahadalit community turn up to collect the pinds.
Sources said most of the pind collectors settled on the land of the forest department in Brahmyoni hills five to six years ago. They first started collecting the food left behind by the pilgrims to feed the cattle. However, when they found out that some of the pinds contain ghee and milk, they too began to consume them.
Kunti, who collects pinds from Suryakund pond, said: “We have been collecting pinds during Pitripaksh for the few past years.”