Mythological reference can be seen from the stories of Maha Bharatha where Pandavasvisited many Theertha Kshethras during their pilgrimage, in Ramayana where Lord SriRama along with his consort Goddess Sita Devi visited many pilgrim centers andperforming Vedic rituals and worshipping, in Maha Bhagavatha Balarama (Lord SriKrishna’s brother) going on a pilgrimage.There are many references to pilgrimage we find in the history of many Kings andEmperors that ruled India. Even we also find such references in the life history of greatsaints like Sri Madhwacharya, Sri Raghavendra Theertha, Sri Sankaracharya etc.,
Theertha Vidhi is a part of Theertha Yathra. We would have observed that lot of peoplein India visit Theertha Kshethras across the country, take sacred bath in holy rivers,perform religious ceremonies especially during parva kala like, Makara Sankramana,Uttarayana, Dakshinayana, Eclipse days, Pushkara days etc.Though different walks of people follow different customs and traditions while visitinga Theertha Kshetra, Dharma Sindhu has prescribed certain uniform rituals (TheerthaVidhi) to be followed while visiting a Theertha Kshethra. Some of them are TheerthaSnana (Sacred bath), Theertha Upavasa (fasting), Theertha Mundana (Tonsuring ofHead), Theertha Sradhha (Pinda Daana), Theertha Darshana (Darshana of the deity),Theertha Dana (charity), Theertha vratha (Puja/worshipping), Theertha Sravana (Katharecital/parayana).Kasi, Gaya, Prayaga are the trinity of places where performingsacred rites to forefathers is a must.One of the maxims of pilgrimage says that one should tonsure ones head at Prayaga.At the same time theertha vidhi prohibits from fasting and getting ones head tonsuredat Gaya. Similar prohibition is also mentioned for other places like Badrinath,Kurukshetra, Jagannathpuri (Puri).Charity given in a Theertha Kshetra is highly fruitful and sacred. Generally peoplegive charity in cash (Hiranya Danam). Charity can also be given in kind if one isprepared in advance like Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Honey, Grandha (Book), Vasthra, PaadaRaksha (Chappals), Umbrella, Hand Stick, Fan, Sayya (Bedding), Phala (Fruits), Bell(Ghanta), Paathra (brass/silver vessel), Asana (Mat), Nava Dhanya, which are calledshodasa Danas. The best is Anna Danam, feeding Brahmins. It is said and believed thatfeeding one brahmin at Gaya brings the same virtue what one would get by feeding onecrore Brahmins elsewhere.Observing Theertha Vidhi is very sacred, celestial and auspicious that yields lot ofphala, punyadayaka and also mukthidayaka. Performing Vedic rituals at TheerthaKshetra is infinitely more effective than performing in one’s home.