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Shradh or Pitra Paksha, falling during the Bhadrapad or the Ashvin month, is dedicated to the ceremony done for the long dead ancestors. Pitra Paksha is a period of fifteen days, during which various rituals for the peace of the departed souls are performed.
It is said that when a person dies, he goes to the Pitra Loka, as per Hindu belief. From there on, he is believed to help his children in all their ventures by showering his blessings on them. It is also said that the souls cannot feed themselves on their own in the Pitra Loka, and that is why their children invite them for a feast during the Shradh ritual, as their duty towards them.
Besides this, priests are also offered food to please the ancestors. Also, there are certain things that one must not forget to do, while observing the Pitra Paksha, which are as mentioned below.
Offering Milk, Ghee And Kheer
Do not forget to offer milk of a cow to the Pitras or Pitra Devas. In fact, it is considered as one of the most sacred offerings to all the deities. You should also not forget to offer ghee as well as kheer made from cow's milk. This helps to get the blessings of the ancestors and increases wealth and prosperity in the family.
Priests are offered food on the Shradh day of the ancestors. However, one should always set aside a share of Bhog (food) each for one's family deity, a cow, a dog, a crow and ants from the main feast. It is considered necessary to offer a share to them. This food set aside is known as Panchbali. And only after this should the feast be offered to the priests invited.
Praying For The Peace Of The Departed Souls
One should always pray for the peace of the souls of the ancestors for whom the Shradh ritual is being observed. Hold some Kusha grass in your hands while facing the South direction. With some water in your hands, pray for the peace of the departed souls. Then, you may offer food to one, three or eleven priests accordingly.
Donations hold high importance not just in Hinduism but in all the other religions as well. Donations are important for the peace of the ancestors as well. Donating a cow, land, sesame seeds, gold, ghee, cloth, grain, jaggery, silver and salt during Pitra Paksha is considered to be even more auspicious.
Rituals Should Be Done Before Noon
The rituals must be performed before noon. The ritual of offering food to the priests should also be done before the same time. If due to some reason, the rituals cannot be performed, the last day of the Pitra Paksh or Amavasya should be chosen for the same because the next Tithi is believed to start after the noon.