Pitru Paksha is an extremely important event occurring annually. During this time, people offer prayers, food, and clothes for the peace of the departed souls of their ancestors. Since this is an annual event, it becomes imperative that Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi is followed properly. Mistakes on any account would cost dearly to the person offering the prayers as well as cause unrest to the souls of the dead family members.
Certain things have to be kept in mind while following Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi.
1. According to correct Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi, the person offering the prayers must do it next to a water body be it a beach or a river bank. For this reason, cities like Gaya, Allahabad, Puri, Rameshwaram, Varanasi, Badrinath etc are very popular destinations to do Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi.
2. The person doing the Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi should have bathed and be in a pious and calm mental state. His thread ceremony should also have been complete before he sits for the pooja.
3. Proper Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi demands that the prayers be offered not later than noon. Prayers in the evening, at dusk and at night are a strict no-no.
4. Learned Brahmins are called to do the proper Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi. After the prescribed prayers are done, food and clothes are offered to them. They must consume the food facing South direction and eat it in absolute silence. Till the time the Brahmins will eat quietly the ancestors will enjoy the food. The moment this silence is broken will result in the ancestors feeling offended and leaving the home of their descendants.
5. The food must have some sweet like kheer or halwa, according to Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi. Other food items include pindas (balls made of rice and barley), ghee, fruits, sweetmeats, rice, and vegetables.
6. For correct Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi, the food must be prepared in silver or copper vessels. Under no circumstances must the food be prepared in iron utensils. Also, the milk used in the Pitru Paksha Puja must be cow’s milk only.
7. Proper Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi dictates that the food is served either on banana leaves or in bowls made of dried leaves.
8. The ancestors get mighty pleased with use of Basil according to correct Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi. If the pooja is done incorporating basil, the ancestors bless the family with longevity, wealth, health and good fortune.
9. Ganga jal, honey, yoghurt and sesame seeds too hold a hallowed status in the rituals according to Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi.
10. Once the Brahmins have been fed, Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi demands that the food is shared with crows which personify the deceased ancestors, cows, ants and dogs. This sharing of food ensures that good karma is earned.
11. Once the food has been consumed by the animals, according to Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi only then can the family members and the invited extended family must eat.
12. Apart from all this, a dictum of correct Pitru Paksha Puja Vidhi is that offerings of clothes and money, known as mahadakshina, are made to needy people. This ensures a good karmic connection between the ancestors’ souls and the present generation.