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Founded: March 15 2002
Last updated: October 7, 2002
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Pitripaksa Fair Concludes with Offerings at Akshayvat Gaya, 6 October (Dainik Jagran). The Pitripaksa Fair which has been going on in Gaya for the last fortnight was today concluded with the ceremony of Suphala for the Gayapal Brahmins at the Akshayvat 1 Altar. The pilgrims have now started to return to their homes.
The final altar of the 45 active altars of Gaya is considered to be that of the Akshayvat. Offering are made of balls of milk-solids and blessings are given to the Priests who have performed rituals for the pilgrims in the hope of the completion of their desires. This ritual is regarded as the final ritual of the fortnight and is performed on the day of the new moon.
Since this morning there have been crowds of pilgrims at the Akshayvat Altar. Crowd after crowd of pilgrims arrived to perform this final ritual. In the open area around the Akshayvat Altar the Gayapal Brahmins had set up their gaddis ["thrones"] where their devotees bound garlands of flowers on their wrists and bowed down asking for blessings in front of their priests. It is the belief that all the offerings made to the ancestors and ritual bathing performed can only be fruitful if blessed by the Gayapal priests. It is due to this belief that today there are such crowds at the Akshayvat Altar.
Before this last night the pilgrims from West Bengal arrived in Gaya. Thousands of pilgrims came to make a one day offering. Dozens of buses were visible on the bypass today. According to the Sanvas Sadan Committee the influx of pilgrims from West Bengal began last night and went on to the morning.
According to sources from Bodhgaya pilgrims have begun to return home after making offerings at the various altars there. Today on the final day they could be seen making offerings at Dharmaranya, Matanga Vyapi and in the Mahabodhi Temple Compound. On this occasion no special arrangements had been made for them by the local administration. Most of all they could be seen searching for drinking water and toilets.


Notes
1 The Aksayvat, or "Imperishable Banyan Tree" is the major sacred tree of Gaya, akin to the Bodhi Tree of Bodhgaya.

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.