Open main menu

Hindu genealogy registers at Haridwar

Genealogy registers, of families, maintained by Brahmin Pandits (Priests) or ‘Pandas’, who double up as professional genealogists, at Haridwar, has been a subject of study for many years now.[1][2] In several cases, these voluminous records or Vahis (Bahi), have also been used in settling legal cases regarding inheritance or property disputes, as these records are held sacrosanct both by the pilgrims and the Pandas themselves,[1] and in many places these records trace family history, for over twenty prior generations, stretching across many centuries.[3][4]

As Haridwar has traditionally been a site, for death rites and also Shraaddha, amongst Hindus, it soon also became customary for the family pandits (priest) to record each visit of the family, along with their gotra, family tree, marriages and members present etc., grouped according to family and home town. And over the centuries, these registers became an important genealogical source for many families, part of splintered families, in tracing their family tree and family history as well, especially after the Partition of India in 1947, and later amongst the Indian diaspora,[5][6]

This custom is similar to Panjis or Panji Prabandh, the extensive genealogical records maintained among Maithil Brahmins in Bihar.

Contents

OverviewEdit

This custom not well known today to Indians settled abroad, in an ancient custom detailed family genealogies of Hindu families for the past several generations are kept by professional Hindu Brahmin Pandits, popularly known as Pandas, at the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in hand written registers passed down to them over generations by their Pandit ancestors which are classified according to original districts and villages of ones ancestors, with special designated Pandit families being in charge of designated district registers, even for cases where ancestral districts and villages that have been left behind in Pakistan after Partition of India with Hindus having to migrate to India.

 
Haridwar, a site for Hindu pilgrimage, 1866 photograph.

In several cases present day descendants are now Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. It is not uncommon for one to find details of up to or even more than one's past seven generations in these genealogy registers kept by the Pandas of Haridwar.

For centuries when Hindu ancestors visited the holy town of Haridwar for any purpose which may have mostly been for pilgrimage purposes or/and for cremation of their dead or for immersion of ashes and bones of their kin after cremation into the waters of the holy river Ganges as required by Hindu religious custom, it has been an ancient custom to go to the Pandit who is in charge of ones family register and update the family's genealogical family tree with details of all marriages, births and deaths from ones extended joint family.

In present day India people visiting Haridwar are dumbfounded when Pundits out of the blue solicit them to come and update their very own ancestral genealogical family tree, news travels like wildfire among the Pandits with ones family's designated Pandit being quickly notified of ones visit. Nowadays with Hindu joint family system having broken down with people preferring more nuclear families, record keeping Pandits prefer visitors to Haridwar to come prepared after getting in touch with all of ones extended family and bringing all relevant details regarding ones ancestral district and village, names of grand parents and great grand parents and marriages, births and deaths that have occurred in the extended family, even with as much details as possible of the families married into. A visiting family member is required to personally sign the family genealogical register furnished by ones Family Panda after updating it for future family visitors and generations to see and to authenticate the updated entries, friends and other family members accompanying on the visit may also be requested to sign as witnesses.[7]

Records on microfilmEdit

Starting around 1977,[3] Hindu genealogy records were microfilmed, and later housed at the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), now known as FamilySearch International, USA since 1981, other places in these records having records of Hindu families are Kurukshetra, Pehowa, Chintpurni, Jawalapur in Haridwar, and Jawalamukhi [8][9][10] The Genealogical Society of Utah currently restricts online access to the Hindu genealogy records to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ) and others due to privacy concerns of the record custodians.[11]

Other Hindu genealogy registersEdit

Some notable places where Shraadhs are performed for the Pitrs are noted below. At these sites, it became customary for the family pandits (priest) to record each visit of the family, along with their gotra, family tree, marriages and members present etc., grouped according to family and home town. Over the centuries, these registers became an important genealogical source for many families, part of splintered families, in tracing their family tree and family history.[1][2]

Hindu genealogy registers at Kurukshetra, HaryanaEdit

Thanesar in Kurukshetra has traditionally been a site for death rites and also Shraaddha amongst Hindus where genealogy records are also kept.[8][9][10][11]

Hindu genealogy registers at Peohwa, HaryanaEdit

The Pitrudhak Teerth at Pehowa on the banks of Sarasvati River in Kurukshetra district of Haryana is a site for Hindu pilgrimage where Pandava performed the death rites after the Mahabharata war and genealogy records of pilgrims are also kept.[8][9][10]

Hindu genealogy registers at Jawalamukhi, Himachal PradeshEdit

Jawalamukhi is a Shakti peetha town and a nagar parishad in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is a site for Hindu pilgrimage where genealogy records are also kept.[8][9][10]

Hindu genealogy registers at Chintpurni, Himachal PradeshEdit

The Chintpurni village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh is one of a Shakti Peethas and a major Hindu pilgrimage site where genealogy records are also kept.[8][9][10][11]

Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi, Uttar PradeshEdit

The Ghats of Varanasi on the Ganges River are a major site for Hindu pilgrimage where death rites are performed, especially at Manikarnika Ghat where genealogy records are also kept.[8][9][10][11]

Hindu genealogy registers at Prayagraj, Uttar PradeshEdit

The Ghats by the Ganges in Prayagraj have long been a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, and have spawned their own set of priests who maintain genealogy records, often dating back centuries.

Hindu genealogy registers at Trimbakeshwar, MaharashtraEdit

Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak, in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in the Nashik District of Maharashtra, India, 28 km from the city of Nashik and 40 km from nashik road. It is dedicated to the god Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas where genealogy records are also kept.[8][9][10][11]

Hindu genealogy registers at TarakeshwarEdit

The purohits or the pandas of the Tarakeswar Shiva temple maintain genealogy records of pilgrims.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Brahman pandas Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement, by Lise McKean, University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0-226-56010-4. Page 151.
  2. ^ a b Janasakhi Janamsakhis of Miharban and Mani Singh, Janamsakhi Tradition, Dr. Kirpal Singh, 2004, Punjabi University, Patiala. ISBN 81-7205-311-8. www.globalsikhstudies.net.page 169.
  3. ^ a b Reporter at Large, The Mountain of Names The New Yorker, 13 May 1985.
  4. ^ Shoumatoff, Alex (13 May 1985). "The mountain of names". The New Yorker. p. 51. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  5. ^ The Greatest Mela on Earth, the Kumbh at Haridwar Rediff.com
  6. ^ Haridwar genealogy registers or Vahi (Bahi) at BBC BBC, "Meera Syal traced her family tree at Haridwar"...
  7. ^ "India, Hindu Pilgrimage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records) Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki". familysearch.org.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g India Genealogical Society of Utah.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Tracing your Asian roots www.overseasindian.in.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Hindu Pilgrimage Marriage Records www.movinghere.org.uk.
  11. ^ a b c d e 10 Places Across The World That Help You Trace Your Ancestors, India Times, 29 Jan 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

  Media related to Family trees at Wikimedia Commons   Media related to Haridwar at Wikimedia Commons