Shraddh & Rituals - 13th to 27th Sept. 2011
By Ritu Shukla
Pitr Paksha as per Hindu Alamanac, is observed from the 1st Tithi of the Ashwin Maas and continues till New Moon day(Amavysya) also known as Sarvapitri Amavysya or Mahalaya Amavysya. This entire phase of 15 days is also known as Pitri Pokho, Sola Shradha, Kanagat, Jitiya or Apara Paksha. During this period, the Shraddha or Tarpan of the ancestors is performed on the Tithi on which they met eternity. This year Pitra Paksh is starting from 13 September 2011 and is ending on 27 September 2011.
According to Hindu Mythology Classics, after death soul has to wander in the various worlds. Pitra Paksh is an occasion to pacify the departed ancestors by performing Shraddh. It is a ritual to repay debts to the ancestors. The Hindu scriptures like the Agni puran, Garud puran, Vayu puran etc. explain the significance of “Shraddh” in details
It is said, “Shraddhyaa Kriyate Yaa Saa”: Shraadh is the ritual accomplished to satiate one’s ancestors. This ritual expresses one’s unconditional reverence towards the ancestors
Significance or Pitra Paksh
As per Hindu belief, the body is destructible but soul is eternal. It can neither be created nor can be destroyed. Lord Krishna in Bhagwat Gita clearly states, “The soul is unborn, eternal, ever existing and primeval.” it is believed that Pitra Paksha rites liberate a soul from the vicious circle of life and death and helps it in attaining salvation. The Shraddha during Pitra Paksha involves oblations to three preceding generations by taking their names and also by taking name of the family tree or Gotra.
These rites are performed by current generation to repay the debts of ancestors. It is said that ancestors (Pitrs), gods (Devas) and ghosts (Pretas) when propitiated- bestow health, wealth, wisdom, longevity and eventually salvation to the native.
Legends associated with Pitra Paksh
As per Hindu mythology, a zone called Pitra loka exists between earth and heaven. All the departed souls or Pitrs dwell at this place. This zone is governed by Lord Yamraj or god of death. In this zone the soul serves out its karmic correction sentences. Here Pitras are not able to get relief from the sensory demands and conditions of the body such as hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fatigue, pain etc. They are waiting to be liberated from their condition so that they can once again get a material body through which they may create positive karma to progress towards their freedom from the karma syndrome.
In search of relief, they are attracted to living entities on the earth planet that are their descendants from previous and current lifetimes and are karmic debtors to them. The ancestors are fed once a day (once in 24 hours) according to their time zone. This is equivalent to every 12 months on the earth plane. This once-a-year period is recognized as the 'shradh' period.
The Pitra Paksh starts with Sun entering the zodiac sign Virgo. At advent of this Paksh the departed souls or forefathers leave the Yamaloka and descend to earth to acknowledge the rites performed by their descendants and remain here till Sun-Moon conjunction happens in Sign Virgo.
it is believed, that during this period Lord Ganesha’s withdraw certain energies from the planetary surface transferring it to the core of the earth thus permitting the Pitras to approach their descendants very closely.
The 'Ganesha-Visarjan' Ananta Chaturdashi is an acknowledgment of this event.
As per another legend, Daanveer Karn (supposedly brother-akin to Pandavas) did numerous charity of jewels, currency, land etc during his life span. When he died and ascended to Pitra loka, he received all that he gave in form of charity in multiples.
But, he didn’t obtain meal in view of the reality that he did not give food-charity. He starved for days and eventually requested “Yamraj” to find an opportunity to create for this deficiency. Yamraj granted him 14 days return to earth and do the needful charity. These 14 days had been used by Karn to provide numerous meal-charities. When he again returned again, there was plenty of meal obtainable to him.
Time and Place of Shraddh
The Shraddha of the ancestors is performed on the Lunar Tithi on which they passed away. But there are certain exceptions to it. The fourth day or Chautha Bharani and the fifth day or Baharani Panchmi is allotted for people who died in the previous year. Avidha Navami is for married women who died before their husbands. Ghata Chaturdashi is for people who died in a sudden and violent death. The Mahalaya or Sarvpitri Amavysya is for all the ancestors and forefathers.