16-day Pitrupaksha begins
Shradh or Pitru Paksha is a period when Hindus remember their ancestors by offering prayers. The 16-day period this year begins today and ends on September 17. 'Shradh' is a way of expressing heartfelt gratitude towards parents who are no more, for having helped them be what they are today. According to scriptures, rituals performed during 'shradh' bring peace to the departed.
'Pitru Paksha' is the period from 'Bhadrapada Purnima' to 'Sarvapitri Amavasya'. 'Pitru Paksha' is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious as the death rites are performed during 'Shradh' or 'Tarpan'. The last day of 'Pitru Paksha' is known as 'Sarvapitri Amavasya'. It is also known as 'Pitru Amavasya' or simply 'Mahalaya'. It is the most significant day of 'Pitru Paksha'.
The dedication of Tarpan, Pind and Daan (donation) in the name of ancestors is called Shraddha. According to the belief, when the sun enters Kanyarashi, the ancestors come from parlok to stay with their grandchildren, hence it is also called Kanagat.
Pind Daan or Shraddha Karma can be performed every month’s Amavasya for the peace of the ancestors, but Pitru Paksha is considered more important for Shraddha.
The Tarpanam and Shradh must also be performed by those who have Pitru Dosha (the ancestor's curse). Those who may have harmed, hurt or displeased their dead elders invite their wrath. Therefore, to seek forgiveness, men perform the Tarpanam and the shradh rituals by offering food and water to crows (believed to be the representative of Yama, the God of death or dead ancestors manifested as crows).
Ideally, one must perform the Tarpanam on all the sixteen days, but the Mahalaya Amavasya is the most important.
Pitru Paksha from Mahabharata:
An episode of Shraddha follows from the era of Mahabharata, after the end of the war between the Kaurava-Pandavas, when all was over, Danveer Karna reached heaven after his death. Gold, silver and ornaments were served in place of food. At this, he asked Indra, the devta of swarg, the reason for this.
Indra dev told Karna that throughout his life he donated only gold, silver and diamonds, but never donated any food in the name of his ancestors. Karna replied that he had no knowledge about his ancestors, so he was unable to do so.
Then, Indra advised Karna to return to Earth, where he donated food and offered his ancestors during these sixteen days. And thus Danveer Karna free from Pitru Rinn.
The person who performs the 'shradh' invites the priest at home and performs a 'havan'. Rice and water are offered to the ancestors and this is called the 'pinda pradaana'. Since cows are considered holy by Hindus, food is also offered to them. The priest who helps with the rituals is given specially cooked food and treated with great care. The 'puja' concludes with giving 'dakshina' or a monetary donation to the priest.
If you remember the death day/date of your ancestor or deceased member of the family, you should pay obeisance on the same date falling on the ancestral side. If the date of death is not known, shraddha can be performed on the day of Sarvapriti Amavasya, which is also known as Mahalaya Amavasya. If there is a premature death due to an accident or self-immolation etc., then Shraddha is performed on Chaturdashi Tithi.
The law has been told to perform Shraddha for three generations. Every year, Yamraj frees all the living beings in the Shraddha Paksha, so that he can go to his kith and accept the tarpan. In the three ancestors, the father is considered like Vasu, Rudra Devta is considered as grandfather and Aditya Devata is considered as great grandfather. It is considered representative of all other ancestors at the time of Shraddh.
Dos and Don'ts
It is believed that any new thing should be started during this time. In fact, buying new stuff, clothes, jewellery etc is prohibited during this period.
During Pitru Paksha, any auspicious event such as marriage or other celebrations is also avoided. Whether planning to buy a new house or property—people ususally postpone the date.
Tamsic food including onion, ginger and garlic is avoided. Many households stop eating non-vegetarian food during Shraadh month. Also, consumption of liquor too must be stopped.
The Pitru Paksha rituals must be performed with a clean heart, mind, body and soul. Prayers must be performed for peace of the departed soul and all blessings sought.
Remember to perform the Tarpan duties of your dead ancestors, so that they attain peace with your offerings.
Holy Places For Shradh Rituals
According to Hindu mythology, there are some important places in India that are famous for performing Shraddha rituals for the peace and happiness of the departed souls.
* Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
* Prayaga (Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh
* Gaya, Bihar
* Kedarnath, Uttarakhand
* Badrinath, Uttarakhand
* Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
* Nashik, Maharashtra
* Kapal Mochan Sarovar, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana
Shradh 2020: Day and dates
1st September: Purnima Shradh
2nd September: Pratipada Shradh
3rd September: Dwitiya Shradh
5th September: Tritiya Shradh
6th September: Chaturthi Shradh
7th September: Panchami Shradh
8th September: Shashthi Shradh
9th September: Saptami Shradh
10th September: Ashtami Shradh
11th September: Navami Shradh
12th September: Dashami Shradh
13th September: Ekadashi Shradh
14th September: Dwadashi Shradh
15th September: Trayodashi Shradh
16th September: Chaturdashi Shradh
17th September: Amavasya Shradh