Dwindling crows worry priests, devotees during 'pind daan'
The dwindling number of crows here is giving sleepless nights to Hindu priests and devotees during the ongoing pind daan, religious rites seeking salvation for the dead from the cycle of rebirth.
Crows are considered central to the age-old pind daan rituals, following which the devotees offer them food as they are believed to be the ancestors of Hindus. The priests are neither bird lovers nor environmentalists, but worried nonetheless over fthe ast declining numbers of crows in this ancient town.
"The situation is alarming. There is a scarcity of crows here, which has hit the pind daan rituals" (during the fortnight-long pitrapaksh period)," priest Mahesh Lal Gupt told IANS.
Gupt blamed the increase of cellphone towers for the death of crows. Others said that mindless cutting of trees in the town and surrounding areas led to the disappearance of crows.
Hundreds of crows have died in Bihar this year, particularly in Gaya, Banka, Nawada, Jamui, Bhagalpur, Munger and Aurangabad districts because of bird flu. Last year, neighbouring Jharkhand had reported similar mass deaths of crows.
The fortnight-long pitrapaksh period during which Hindus consider it auspicious to offer pind daan began last month.
"The soul of a deceased keeps wandering till this ritual is performed by male descendants of the dead," Rajan Sijaur, another priest told IANS.
Pind daan is traditionally offered by Hindus, but historical records available with priests show that some Muslims also performed the ritual in the past.
Legend has it that Lord Rama performed this religious rite for his father, king Dasarath.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)