India, Hindu Pilgrimage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Foreign Language Title
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Collection Time Period
The records in this collection span from 1800 to 1985.
How to Use the Record
Before you begin your search, it is important to know your ancestor's name and the year in which they made their pilgrimage.
Hindu pilgrimage records were kept by a Pandit Madhukar Balkrishan Akolkar at Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, India. They include records for people from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan, India, and are created and updated when family members pass on.
The registers are arranged by "caste" and contain the following information:
- Native residence
- Names of family members
- Last occasion on which a family member came to this place of pilgrimage and made an entry in the register
- Ceremony performed at the time
- Offering made to the priest
No women are mentioned unless their deaths are referred to indirectly.
These Hindu pilgrimage records were kept by a Pandit Madhukar Balkrishan Akolkar at Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, India. They include records for people from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan, India. The records are created and updated when family members pass on.
Why This Record Was Created
The ancient custom of keeping family genealogies is not well-known today to Indians settled abroad. Professional Hindu Brahmin Pandits, popularly known as "Pandas", kept detailed family genealogies over the past several generations at the Hindu holy city of Haridwar. The registers are handwritten, having been passed down to them over generations by their Pandit ancestors, and are classified according to original districts and villages of one's ancestors. Special designated Pandit families are in charge of designated district registers, including ancestral districts and villages that were left behind when Hindus had to migrate from Pakistan to India after the Partition of India.
In several cases, present-day Hindu descendents are now Sikhs, Muslims, and even Christians. It is not uncommon for researchers to find details of up to or even more than their past seven generations in these genealogy registers.
Hindu ancestors have visited the holy town of Haridwar for centuries for various religious and cultural purposes, including:
- Religious pilgrimage
- Cremation of their dead
- Immersion of a kin member's cremated remains into the holy river Ganges
For centuries, Hindu ancestors who have visited Haridwar for any of these purposes also visit the Pandit in charge of their family registers and update the family's genealogical family tree with details of all marriages, births, and deaths in the extended joint family.
In present-day India, people visiting Haridwar are dumbfounded when Pundits unexpectedly step forward and invite them to come update their very own ancestral genealogical family tree. The news of a visiting family travels quickly to the Pandit in charge of their district.
With Hindu joint family system having broken down into nuclear families, the Pandits prefer visitors to Haridwar to come prepared after getting in touch with all of their extended family and to bring all relevant genealogical events, such as:
- Ancestral district and village
- Names of grandparents and great grandparents
They also ask for as much information as is possible about the families they are marrying into. A visiting family member is required to personally sign the family genealogical register furnished by his or her personal 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.
The records are generally reliable as far as the information provided to the recorder of the information.
Related Web Sites
Hindu Pilgramge Sites: an Interactive Map
BBC Video Report of Meera Syal as she traced her Indian ancestry.
Related Wiki Articles
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Sources of information for This Collection
Madhukar Balkrishan Akolkar. Hindu Pilgrimage Records. Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, India.
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