This article explains all about pitru pakshas or shraddhs, its significance, the rituals performed as well as Do`s and Don’ts during pitru pakshas .
What is Pitru Paksha?
In the ancient texts, pitrus or pitras refer to ancestors and paksha means a particular time. So the term pitru paksha suggests it is the time when we offer prayers and food to the ancestors.
Pitru Paksha or Pitri paksha is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestor (Pitrs), especially through food offerings.
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan.
According to South Indian Amavasyant calendar it falls in the lunar month of Bhadrapada beginning with the full moon day or day after full moon day.
According to North Indian Purnimant calendar this period falls in the lunar month of Ashwin beginning with the full moon day in Bhadrapada or next day of full moon day.
Mythology behind Pitru Paksha
For Hindus the performance of Shraddha by a son during Pitru Paksha is regarded as compulsory, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven. According to Garuda Purana “there is no salvation for a man without a son”.The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are satisfied with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation or moksha upon the performer.
The Ritual of Shraddha involves the male member, usually the eldest son of a family. The male who performs the shraddha should take a purifying bath and is expected to wear a dhoti. He is required wear a ring of kush grass. Then the ancestors are invoked to reside in the ring. The shraddha is usually performed bare-chested, as the position of the sacred thread worn by him needs to be changed multiple times during the ceremony. The shraddha involves pinda-daan, which is an offering to the ancestors of pindas i.e cooked rice and barley flour balls mixed with ghee and black sesame seeds, accompanying the release of water from the hand. It is followed by the worship of Vishnu, a gold image or Shaligram stone and Yama. The food offering is then made, cooked especially for the ceremony on the roof. The offering is considered to be accepted if a crow arrives and devours the food; the bird is believed to be a messenger from Yama or the spirit of the ancestors. A cow and a dog are also fed, and Brahmin priests are also offered food. Once the ancestors (crow) and Brahmins have eaten, the family members can have lunch.
Pitru Paksha -2016 Dates
16 September (Friday) Purnima Shraddha
17 September (Saturday) Pratipada Shraddha
18 September (Sunday) Dwitiya Shraddha
19 September (Monday) Tritiya Shraddha, Chaturthi Shraddha
20 September (Tuesday) Maha Bharani, Panchami Shraddha
21 September (Wednesday) Shashthi Shraddha
22 September (Thursday) Saptami Shraddha
23 September (Friday) Ashtami Shraddha
24 September (Saturday) Navami Shraddha
25 September (Sunday) Dashami Shraddha
26 September (Monday) Ekadashi Shraddha
27 September (Tuesday) Dwadashi Shraddha
28 September (Wednesday) Magha Shraddha, Trayodashi Shraddha
29 September (Thursday) Chaturdashi Shraddha
30 September (Friday) Sarva Pitru Amavasya
Things to be avoided during Pitru Paksha.
- This isn’t a good time for new beginnings. Avoid starting anything new, even something seemingly as insignificant as buying and wearing new clothes, washing hair, cutting hair and even shaving .
- As per astrologers, getting married, celebrating the birth of a new born, settling down in a new home, starting a new business and other such important events should be postponed or advanced so as to not to fall under the period of Pitru Paksha.
- Eating non vegetarian food or even including onion and garlic in the food is forbidden.
- It is believed that only when a person performs the rituals with earnestness and no malice at heart does his efforts bear fruit. Thus, it is important to clear one’s mind of all negative thoughts.It is also important to refrain from pleasurable activities for the ritual to be successful.