Shradh paksha or Pitru Paksha based on Hindu calendar is starting from September 24 Monday and ending on October 8 Monday this year. Shradh is a ritual that is performed by children or relatives of dead ancestors for the peace of the departed soul.
Our ancestors are very near and dear to us as our lives rest firmly on the foundation of their sacrifice. Pitru Paksha is the special time of the year when Hindus pay respect to their ancestors by performing few rituals and forbidding themselves to do certain things. It is believed that during Bhadrapada Maas, for 16 days from Purnima to Amavasya the souls of our dead ancestors come to earth in the form of energies. These energies may affect our lives according to their wishes.
During this period, food, clothes and donations are offered to Brahmin priests who help to perform Shradh rituals. Animals like cows, dogs and crows are fed. In Hindu religion, Brahmins are considered to be the primary servants of God and they are the link between a common man and the supreme power. They are an integral part of all religious ceremonies and rituals. There is a famous story behind feeding Brahmins – the famous Mahabharata character Kunti putra Karna donated a lot of wealth as charity to poor and needy people during his lifetime but he never offered food to them. When Karna went to heaven after his death, he was offered many luxurious and materialistic pleasures but was not given any food. Karna understood the cause and requested Yamraja to send him back to earth for 15 days in order to donate food to Brahmins and poor. Yamaraja accepted his request and sent him to earth for a fortnight. When Karna returned back, he was greeted with abundant food. It signifies Brahmin bhoj and feeding poor people is an effective ritual to gain fulfilment after life.
Pitru Paksha is the most auspicious time concerning our dead ancestors. Keeping them happy by way of various good deeds is one of the practices of attaining mukti or salvation.
Follow few simple rules and benefit during Shradh:
- During Pitru Paksha avoid eating foods like rice, non-veg, garlic, onion and outside food. Eat only home-made satvik food. Avoid cooking or eating brinjal as well.
- Don’t use masoor, kali urad, chana, black jeera, black salt, black mustard and any impure or stale food product in Shradh food.
- The person performing Shradh rituals should not cut his nails.
- He should not have a shave or haircut.
- He should not wear dirty clothes.
- He should not use leather made products like belt, wallet or footwear while performing Shradh rituals.
- If you are performing Shradh rituals and chanting mantras, never pause it to talk with someone. It may bring negative energy.
- Addiction destroys your good deeds and donations during Shradh. Many a times people chew tobacco, smoke cigarette or consume alcohol. Don’t indulge in such bad practices. It hampers fruitful result of performing Shradh karma.
- Avoid making physical relations. Be on a celibacy mode.
- Don’t tell lies or use harsh words or curse others.
- If possible, don’t wear slippers in the house for all 16 days.
- Avoid using black or red flowers and extremely scented or odourless flowers for Shradh pooja and rituals.
- Taking frequent meals on the day of Shradh by the person performing Shradh rituals is also prohibited.
- Don’t use iron vessels for rituals. Instead use gold, silver, copper or bronze vessels to please your ancestors.
- Don’t use iron in any way of seating. Use a seating of silk, wool, wood etc.
- Don’t buy or wear new clothes during Shradh period.
- Don’t enter a new home, start a new business or new venture or celebrate birthday etc. during this fortnight.
- Don’t bring home new materialistic things lie new car etc. during this period.
- Shradh Karma shouldn’t be performed during evening, night, dawn or dusk.
- Don’t wash clothes on Shradh day.
During Pitru Paksha, pray earnestly to God and your ancestors to cleanse your past karmas and bring happiness and prosperity to your life.
Pleasing Brahmins, poor and needy and your other good deeds can please the souls of your ancestors!