India, Hindu Pilgrimage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Record History

Hindu pilgrimage records kept by a Pandit Madhukar Balkrishan Akolkar at Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, India. They include records for people from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan, India. These records are created and updated when family members pass on. The registers are arranged by "caste" and contain native place, names of family members, the last occasion on which a family member came to this place of pilgrimage and made an entry in the register, the ceremony performed at the time and offering made to the priest. No women are mentioned unless their deaths are referred to indirectly.

Why This Record Was Created

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.

In several cases present day descedents are now Sikhs and many maybe Muslims or even 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.

Record Reliability

Related Web Sites

This is an interactive map showing a varity of Hindu Pilgramge Sites

More information on otherIndian Geneological records can be found here.

The BBC also has a video report on an person tracing their Indian ancestory.

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Sources of information for This Collection

Madhukar Balkrishan Akolkar. Hindu Pilgrimage Records. Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, India.  

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