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A number of rituals are followed in Hinduism. These rituals are supposed to be observed either on specific days such as on festivals or on specific Tithis of the month. Tithi is the Indian name for the days of a month. While some of the rituals are meant just to harness the love among the communities living together, others are meant to earn the blessings of the devotees and yet others to remove certain problems from life.
The faith in one's deity accompanied by prescribed rituals is believed to help make life better and happier. These rituals begin to be observed right after the birth of a child. Similarly, there are some which are observed right after death, and some observed later as well.
In fact, it is said that when a person dies, his soul goes to the Pitra Loka, from where he keeps supporting his family by showering his blessings in all their ventures. Shraadh or Pitra Paksha is one such occasion during which we pay respect to such ancestors of ours.
Significance Of Shraadh Or Pitra Paksha
Shraadh, also known as Pitra Paksha refers to the period of fifteen days when one is supposed to offer respect through prayers and other offerings to one's ancestors. It is said that the ancestors go to the Pitra Loka after death; there they cannot feed themselves on their own. Hence, their children on earth need to perform some rituals as a duty towards them. Pitra Paksha is the period of auspicious days when these rituals can be performed.
When Is Shraadh Observed?
Pitra Paksha every year is observed in the Bhadrapad month according to the South Indian Amavasyant calendar. It begins on a full moon day. However, since the Purnimant calendar is followed in North India, it falls in the Ashvin month and begins with the full moon day or the day after it. The variation is only in the names of the month; the dates generally fall on the same days.
Shraadh 2018 Dates
In the year 2018, the Shraadh or the Pitra Paksha will be observed from September 24 and will end on October 8. People generally offer various items depending on the customs followed by the family. Besides this, Shraadh days are considered auspicious for various astrological remedies performed for the removal of Pitra Dosha.
The offering to one's ancestors can be made on the Tithi when the person had departed. If the Shraadh could not be performed on that Tithi, it can be performed on the Amavasya that will fall within the same period of fifteen days.
Why Is Shraadh Observed?
Astrology says that sometimes children frequently suffer from various health issues, or there are issues related to childbirth and frequent miscarriages. One reason behind these might be that the long-dead ancestors in the Pitra Loka (where Pitra or ancestors live) might be displeased with them. Some other indications that the ancestors are not happy are poverty, unusual deaths in the family, accidents, etc. This problem is also known as Pitra Dosha. Hence, a set of rituals needs to be performed in order to please the ancestors.