Legend says that the river Ganges (Ganga) descended on earth from heavens for salvation of King Bhagirath’s diseased ancestors. It is one of the most sacred places for Hindus, who believe if their ashes are submerged in the river Ganga, they will attain Moksha.
At Haridwar, a city near Ganga river in northern part of India, most of Hindus perform their death rites & Shradha (Paying homage to ancestors). The families generally get their visit to Haridwar recorded by the family Priest, who is commonly called as Pandit or Pandas. This custom has been practiced from time immemorial.
The Priest records details like
- Date of visit,
- Family name (Last name/cast),
- Grand Parents name,
- Family members name,
- Home town or village,
Thus giving rise to a record keeping system of family genealogies dating back many generations.
These Priests are in charge of a designated state of the country and also get subdivisions of the District.
For example, if the pilgrim/visitor wants to record his visit, he will find a designated Pandit for his state. These Pandits have a treasure of old handwritten records passed down to them by their pandit ancestor. These records are so old sometimes, they may date back 10 to15 generations of a person’s family tree.
From these records one can find about his ancestry. In old times it is said these records were used to solve legal disputes of land and inheritance.
If you are visiting Haridwar, it’s no surprise when a Pandit reaches out to you and asks to get your visit documented. The pandit prefers if you have some knowledge about your ancestral lineage. After getting the visit recorded, the pandit asks one of the family members to sign the document. This way he updates his record for reference to future generations.
This method of hand written record keeping is surprisingly successful and the tradition is still going on, preserving all the valuable information.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only.