Shraddh is one of the most significant times to remember our ancestors and pray for them to rest their souls in peace. According to Ethics in Hindu, during the period of Pitra Paksha, if we offer prayers and perform certain rituals for our ancestors, definitely we will receive the blessings from them and their souls will rest in peace.
In some religious books, more importance has been given to Pitra Kriya (ritual for a forefather) than Dev Kriya (ritual to please a God). The significance of Shradh is mentioned in ancient scriptures like Garuda Purana, Matsya Purana, Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana and Manu Smriti, which highlights the benefits of performing Shraadh.
Pitru Paksha is the period when Hindus performs certain rituals to respect their ancestors with feelings of reverence and love. This year 16-days period starts with Pratipada Shraadh [28th September] and ends with Sarvapitri Amavasya (12th October 2015). This Pitra Paksha is also known as Mahalaya Pitra Paksha.
According to the Holy Scripture “Srimad Bhagavad Gita” the body is destructible but the soul remains immortal. The Shradh liberates the soul from the cycle of Birth and Death resulting in salvation.
Hence, performing Shraddh during Pitru Paksha is measured very important for the departed souls to rest in peace. Offering of water and other symbolic items, along-with recitation of mantras, to the souls of departed ancestors – is known as tarpan. Tarpan, is performed in order to get rid of Pitra Dosh. (Bad effects we observe due to the non-performance of rituals of the departed souls).
Every year during the time of Shraadh, various Hindu families pray for their ancestors to rest in peace.
During these sixteen days of Shraddh, each day is dedicated as Tithi (date) of an ancestor. The death anniversary of that departed person is considered as a Shradh Tithi.
If a person’s death anniversary is on “Panchmi” then on the day of “Panchmi” Tithi his Tarpan should be performed.
In case if we don’t know the exact date of departure, then on the day of “Sarvpitri Amavasya” the Tarpan Vidhi should be performed.
After performing the “Tarpan”, Brahmins are offered home cooked food, brand new clothes, special sweets and Dakshina (money). It is believed that this “Brahman Bhoj” will reach the ancestors.
Then, it is necessity to place some food on the porch wall or balcony ledge so as to invite crows to feed upon the meal, as a crow is symbolic of our ancestors according to Ethics in Hindu. When a crow pecks the food, that’s supposed ancestor tasting the meal – which is why lavish dishes are prepared for the Shradh.
Performing the Shraadh, we can also make Mahadan (big donation).
This ritual [Mahadan] is performed to get free from the Pitra Dosha. This can bring positivity along with the blessings of the ancestors.
- Mustard Oil
- Wheat, Rice (dhaanya daan);
- Salt (lavan)
- Steel utensils
- Cow (Gowdaan or godaan),
- Clothes ( Towels, Lungi, Kurta- vastra daan)
- Kali Til (sesame seed) and milk
- Gold (swarn daan)
- Silver (rajat daan)
Holy Places for Shradh Rituals
Though Shradh can be performed at home, it is considered extra beneficial if one travels to certain holy places, the departed souls may happy and their souls get liberated.
- Kapal mochan Sesh Ambadi
- Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand
- Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu
During the time of Pitru Paksha, there are certain things which should be avoided by the performer of Tarpan.
Things to Avoid During Pitru Paksha
During the Shraadh or in Pitru Paksha, avoid the things mentioned below:
1. Do not buy new clothes during the Pitru Paksha period.
2. Events like marriage or birthday celebrations, House Warming are completely avoided during Pitru Paksha.
3. Haircutting should be avoided during these sixteen days of Shradh.
4. Restrain from eating Non-vegetarian food, alcohol and other Toxic Items during Pitru Paksha.
5. Avoid eating at others’ house during Pitru Paksha.
Shradh are too performed with full faith, devotion and dedication to make ancestors Happy and Satisfied to protect us from all evil energy, negativity and to bless us.
When Pitras are satisfied, the Ethics in Hindu says that the Devatas known as Vasus (incharge of wealth), Rudras (incharge of protection and courage), and Adityas (incharge of health), will get pleased and award favours consequently.