It is that time of the year when Hindus need to pay reverence to their forefathers. Pitru Paksha, beginning from 16thSeptember and going up to 1st October this year, is the time when people perform death rites of their ancestors, known as Shraadh or Tarpan. This period of 15 days starts on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August-September) and ends on the new moon day.
Why the 15 days of Shraadh?
As per Hindu scriptures, it is believed that when the great warrior Karna died in the war of Mahabharata, he was taken to Heaven, where he was welcomed and was given gold and jewels to eat. This was because he was a man who had donated gold and jewels to the needy all his life. Surprised by this gesture, Karna asked Lord Indra how he could eat all this, upon which Lord Indra reminded him that in spite of donating all these jewels to the needy, he had forgotten to pay homage to his ancestors and offer them food. This was why he was being offered jewels to eat too. Karna realized his mistake and apologized to the Lord. Upon expressing regret, he was given a chance to return to Earth for 15 days, where he would worship his ancestors and offer them food. This period of 15 days is therefore signified as Pitru Paksha every year.
Why the Pitru Paksha?
It is believed that when someone from the oldest generation of a family dies, his soul heads towards the Pitrulok, which is a zone between the Earth and Heaven, ruled by Lord Yama. When someone from the next generation in the family dies, his soul takes up this place, and the souls of previous generations are departed to Heaven to reunite with God. Thus, Pitru Paksha involves worshipping three generations of ancestors. During Pitru Paksha, these souls are believed to leave the Pitrulok and reside in the homes of their descendants for a month. Therefore, people must worship and please their ancestors during this period.
What rituals are performed?
The son of the family is the main individual who is supposed to perform the rituals of Shraadh. He is supposed to take a purifying bath and wear a dhoti. All the rituals are performed in the presence and guidance of a professional Pandit, after which food is offered to the ancestors. It is believed that if a crow eats this food, the ritual is considered successful because crows are considered to be the form of ancestors in Hindu mythology. Apart from these rituals, it is also believed that no new task or undertaking should be performed during this 15 day period as it is considered inauspicious. So, if there is a new beginning that is coming up after Shraadh, and you are only waiting for the new moon to arrive, make sure you get in touch with MakeMyPuja Pujaris to help perform the most appropriate puja and bring a promising new beginning into your life.