Hindu genealogy registers at Haridwar

Genealogy registers, of Hindu 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 [http://books.google.com/books?id=OsI7Hy8H34YC&pg=RA1-PA151&lpg=RA1-PA151&dq=Hindu+genealogy+registers+at+Haridwar&source=web&ots=ihYBQhUcK7&sig=Uj_vt0bcEjfEMqm80cKzJki45bU&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result Brahman pandas] "Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement", by Lise McKean, University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0226560104. Page 151.] [http://www.globalsikhstudies.net/pdf/janamsakhi.pdf 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".] . 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 , and in many places these records trace family history, for over twenty prior generations, stretching across many centuries [http://www.dispatchesfromthevanishingworld.com/pastdispatches/mountain/mountain_printer.html Reporter at Large, The Mountain of Names] The New Yorker, May 13, 1985.] [ [http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1985/05/13/1985_05_13_051_TNY_CARDS_000341255 Abstract - Alex Shoumatoff, A Reporter at Large, "THE MOUNTAIN OF NAMES,"] "The New Yorker, May 13, 1985, "p. 51".] .

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 Hindu families, in tracing their family tree and family history as well, especially after the Partition of India in 1947, and later amonst the Indian diaspora, [ [http://www.rediff.com/travel/1998/apr/09kumbh1.htm The Greatest Mela on Earth, the Kumbh at Haridwar] "Rediff.com"] [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/whodoyouthinkyouare/past-stories/meera-syal.shtml Haridwar genealogy registers or "Vahi" (Bahi) at BBC] "BBC", "Meera Syal" traced her family tree at Haridwar"...]

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

Overview

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 decedents 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 then ones seven past 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 Ganga 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.

Records on Microfilm

Starting around 1977 , Hindu genealogy records were microfilmed, and later housed at the the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), USA since 1981, other places in these records having records of Hindu families are Kurukshetra, Pehowa, Chintpurni, Jawalapur, and Jawalamukhi [ [http://www.gensocietyofutah.org/country.asp?countryid=408 India] "Genealogical Society of Utah".] [ [http://www.overseasindian.in/2007/dec/news/20072712-183237.shtml Tracing your Asian roots] www.overseasindian.in.] [ [http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/roots/asian/countries/lds.htm Hindu Pilgrimage Marriage Records] "www.movinghere.org.uk".]

Further reading

* "The Hindu world: an encyclopedic survey of Hinduism", by Benjamin Walker, Published by Praeger, 1968.

ee also

* Haridwar
* Genealogy
* Family tree

References

External links

* [http://www.dispatchesfromthevanishingworld.com/pastdispatches/mountain/mountain_printer.html Pilgrim registers at Haridwar]
* [http://www.meaus.com/whatisapilgrim.htm Account of a pilgrim tracing his gealogy - What is a Pilgrim by "Swami Veda Bharati"]


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