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Pitr-Paksha – Hindu Way Of Paying Gratitude To Ancestors

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The dark fortnight which falls in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad (September) is known as Pitr-Paksha or Mahalay Paksha all over the Hindu World. Pitra Paksha is performed from the 1st day / tithi of the Ashwin month and goes up to the following New Moon (Amavasya) day. Each of these 15 days is dedicated to the Shraddha of those ancestors who had met eternity on that particular day/tithi. During Pitra Paksha, Shraddha is performed for the departed immediate relatives usually up to three preceding generations. Shraddh is the name of the ceremonies performed by relatives to help the departed soul in Pitr-Paksha. The word Shraadh comes from Shraddha or devotion. Pitrapaksha gives a chance to repay debt to our deceased ancestors by gratifying their spirits. The Lord of death, Yamaraja enables the dead ones to come to earth and receive offers from the descendants.

Shraddh must be performed with faith, devotion and reverence. As per the ritual, three cakes are offered to the father, grand-father and great grand-father. Gifts to deserving Brahmins (priests) for the benefit of the Pitris, in the proper time and place and with faith, are known as Shraddh. Shraddh gives satisfaction to the Pitris. Performance of Shraddh and Tarpan (libations of water) relieves the hunger and thirst of the departed soul during its journey to the Pitri Loka. By the offering of the Shraddh, the son helps his father to dwell in joy with the Pitris. Departed souls in the family, for whom Shraadh is not performed, are said to wander aimlessly on Earth. The Pitr Paksha Shraadh is also offered to ancestors whose dates of death are not known Rituals are offered in the names of the departed in the many holy Ghats spread across the country. The whole fortnight preceding Amavasya is considered to be apt for this occasion. People gather in the banks of Godavari and Krishna to perform rituals and rites for the departed. The Holy waters of the river plays a major part in the ritualistic festival.

The customs and rituals performed vary regionally. Some people fast on the day; some abstain from non-vegetarian food, avoid onion and garlic and some do not cut their hair or shave through out the fortnight. Generally, no new clothes are worn nor purchased out the fortnight.

The Hindu festival Pitr-Paksha 2009 starts on Saturday 5 September and lasts a fortnight until Friday 18 September. The next day after this Amavasya marks the beginning of the wonderful celebration of Navaratri when the Devis are worshipped

14 comments:

IndianPundit said...

Hi Meghana
Nice work.

Reading your blog makes me feel like re-discovering my own culture!!!!

Cheers and check out my blog too!

Meghana said...

Thanks Indian Pundit!Just a small try from my side to promote Indian culture sitting abroad.

Juhi said...

Good post Meghana, your posts are eye openers for me, now I can impress my Mother-in-Law with the information I have :)

Meghana said...

Ha..ha Juhi ur comment makes me smile.

Mukesh Aggarwal said...

Hi Meghna,

Feels great to have people like you who are promoting our culture and creating the possibilities for others to be connected to our roots.

With the similar thought process, I started a company in India, Midson Care, which is all about supporting our fellow friends out there to feel empowered, even if they are away from the family.

I think we can explore possibilities together in spreading empowerment. Please drop me a line

Vivek said...

Good information meghna. I have seen your other blogs also and you seem to be an informative person wrt hindu rituals and festivals.

Anonymous said...

Hey Meghs...
Tell me one thing.
I purchased some new stuff like cellphonbes and sofa during this period (i did not know it was pitru paksh by the time i have the items shipped)
to make up for it i have not yet opened the cellphone boxes for use and today last day i have the sofa coming into my place... was wondering if i did the most wrong thing i could ever...i could start using that beautiful sofa after midnight ;) whats ur say?

Meghana said...

Hi,

See you have done something unknowingly and that 's a mistake.No worries,there is no religion which says that god would punish if something has been done unknowingly.And not purchasing new thing is basically not even related to god directly its just a way we pay gratitude to our ancestors who come on earth,we just devote these 15 days to them by just showing our gesture of not starting anything new.

The best part you did is that you did not use those new items.Actually the same happened with me years back i brought a new dress unknowingly,although my parents got angry on me but then they said that do not wear it in these 15 days just keep it aside because immediately next day of Pitr Paksha,Navratri starts.So these nine day as you know are wonderful to start anything new.So go ahead and use your new things now as Navratri has started from today.

Cheers!
Happy Navratri

karim said...

A valuable post on gratitude.

Thanks,
Karim - Mind Power

Anonymous said...

Sanatan Dharma is the oldest culture in the world, and there was a time when it was spread throughout the world. People can find swastika in every culture like the American Indians, Greece, troy, Italy, Russia and many other countries have this symbol. Look at the 108 symbols of god in Sanatan Dharma and their origin. Things will become very clear about the origin of humanity in this world. It is time to free ourselves from the lies and deception spread throughout the world about our culture.

Dont forget, even today in Sanskrit and Hindi the words for Divorce and any other abusive words do not exist. Yet it contains words like Yantra ( machine) and Vimana ( air-craft), which existed far before the western civilization constructed aircraft themselves.

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