VRINDAVAN, INDIA, October 3,2012 (Deccan Herald): Traditionally, Vedic hymns are chanted and religious rites performed in honor of one's ancestors. There is an elaborate feast that marks pitra-paksh. Family and friends are invited, and pandits too are fed on the occasion. Many of those who observe the rituals believe that observing pitra-paksh in honor of one's forebears ensures peace and prosperity in the family, explains Surendra Sharma of the Brahmin Maha Sabha.
Over the years, however, even finding a priest to feed for pitra-paksh has become quite a task. The shortage of Karma-Kandi pandits, who perform the ceremonies and are offered a meal, is acute in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. Anurag Shukla, president of the Agra Panditya Maha Sabha, said: "The new generation of Brahmins here is no longer interested in this as it is not lucrative, and the social status accorded to a pandit is not attractive either."
Rakesh Sharma, convener of the All India Brahmin Mahasabha said: "Agra district has a brahmin population of around 500,000. In the absence of proper guidance and directions, the younger generation is not being attracted to traditional practices. It's not that there is no market for the Karma-Kandi pandits, we receive enquiries even from abroad for trained hands. But there is no proper mechanism for updating and training professionals."
Agra University started a specialized course for producing Karma-Kandi pandits a few years ago, as there was reportedly great demand for them abroad. There were not enough students interested in the course, leading to the closure of the programme.
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