Pitru Paksha or Shraddh is the time of the Hindu calendar when people remember and pay their respects to their ancestors. It is believed that if prayers are offered to the Gods during this period, the ancestors would bless their living relatives and their souls will rest in peace.
In the year 2015, the Pitru Paksha starts on September 28 and ends on October 12. Mahalaya amavasya falls on October 12 and is of special significance as it marks the end of the 16 day Pitru Paksha. Rituals such as Tarpan and Pind Daan are performed to appease the ancestors. Keep reading to know more about Pitru Paksha.
Srimad Bhagagvad Gita tells us that the soul is indestructible. The soul neither dies and nor is it born. The soul in each of our bodies are immortal and cannot be destroyed by anything.
The motto of the soul is attain liberation or salvation. Performing Shraadh helps the soul of the departed to rest in peace and dissolve into the creator. Another reason for performing Tarpan during Pitru Paksha is that it relieves the living of all the bad effects of non performance of rituals dedicated to the ancestors. Hence, it is very important to pray and offer respects to the departed souls with full faith and devotion.
It is said that when Karna reached the heavens after his death in the war of Kurukshetra, he was offered gold, silver and diamonds as food. Seeing this, Karna asked Indra why he was being treated this way even though he was always generous and kind when alive. Indra answered that while it was true that Karna was probably the most generous man who ever lived, all he donated and gave away was wealth. He never offered his respects to his ancestors or tried to appease them by offering them food. Karna answers that he never was aware of his ancestors and therefore, could not offer Tarpan. So, Indra let Karna return to earth for 16 days to help him fulfill his duties to his ancestors.
It is believed that during the sixteen day period, the departed souls come to earth to accept the offerings made by their successors and to bless them.
Places Where Tarpan Can Be Offered
Is thought that there are places of special powers and significance when it comes to offering Tarpan. These places can be found all over India. The best places to perform Tarpan are given below:
- Kapal mochan Sesh Ambadi
- The eldest son in the family or the head of the family is who performs Tarpan. If that is not possible, any male member of the family may perform the ritual.
- It is important to control one's emotions during the Shraadh. It is necessary to pray to the God and to remember to control their anger.
- If it is not possible to visit the important places for Shraadh, Brahmins may be invited to the home and and are offered food, clothes, sweets and dakshina. It is said that any offering made to a pious Brahmin reaches the souls of the ancestors.
- The crow is fed food as it is seen as the messenger of Yama. Cows and dogs can be fed too.
- If one is riddled with Pitru Dosha, one can make Mahadaan. This helps bring in positivity and the blessings of the ancestors.
Things Not To Do
- During Pitru Paksha, you must not buy new clothes.
- Auspicious ceremonies and events like marriages are not performed during this period.
- Haircuts should be avoided during this time.
- One must keep away from consuming alcohol or non vegetarian food during Pitru Paksha. Use of tobacco is prohibited too.
- It is also important not to consume food in other houses. It is believed that if you do so, you would incur 'salt debt' and their Pitru Dosha will be transferred. A remedial Pooja may be required to remove the ill effects.