Shradh is an important ritual as per Indian traditions. It is performed to pay respect to departed ancestor’s souls. In Hindu culture, feeding animals and birds during Pitri Paksha or Shradh Paksha is seen as of great significance and very auspicious. There is a belief that this good deed will remove the misery and increase good luck. As mentioned in Vedas or scriptures, it is considered that feeding birds and animals help in avoiding the ill effects of planets in your horoscope and add to your good karmas.
According to Hinduism, birds and animals act as vehicles of many Gods and Goddesses and thus they take an eminent place. Following are the list of animals and birds that may come to the rescue and help ward off the ill-fated impacts on you and your family if fed with Shradh food.
Cows: Cows have long been sacred to Hindus and they are associated with the ancient time of Lord Krishna. Hindu devotees feed cows especially during Pitri Paksha. This ritual is believed to bring peace to the souls of ancestors. The cow is associated with Aditi, the mother of all gods. She is the element of earth. Cow is a generous, docile creature, one that gives more to us than she takes. It is said feeding the cows help in overcoming the malefic effects of planets situated at a specific location in one’s horoscope. By serving cows during Pitri Paksha, Pitri Dev get gratification and absolution. Shradh rituals are also not complete without feeding cows. You can also feed grass to them. It is like feeding Brahmins.
Dogs: Dog has a special place in Hindu mythology. It personifies Yama, the lord of death and guards the door of heaven and hell. It is also considered as the vehicle of Lord Bhairav, the guardian deity to the abode of Lord Shiva. Dog is the element of water. A dog eating Shradh food in Pitri Paksha is considered an auspicious sign.
Crows: In Hindu culture, there is a belief that our ancestors arrive on earth in the form of crows. Feeding them is considered as feeding our dead ancestors. Crows are the only birds which act as a messenger to Pitri Loka. They are the element of air. Offering them Shradh food during this fortnight is a way to pay homage to one’s forefathers and gratify their souls.
Ants: Feeding ants during this period spells good fortune. One should feed flour balls and sugar to them to get their wishes and desires fulfilled. Ants are the element of fire. The ancestors bless those who perform this ritual.
Brahmins: It is necessary to feed Brahmins in Pitri puja. Ancestors do not accept the puja if Brahmins are not offered Shradh food. One should perform Pitri puja on the day the ancestor died. The Shradh Brahmin should eat food with complete silence. It is believed that our ancestors enjoy food through these Brahmins till they keep quiet and concentrate on eating without praising food and quality. You should prefer a qualified Brahmin for Shradh puja. Serve him the meal in a gold, silver, bronze or copper plate. If not available, a simple paper plate will do. Make the Brahmins sit on a silk, wool, wood, grass, foliage or kusha grass asana. Use of iron is prohibited. Brahmins should be fed kheer, puri, subji and yogurt.
Feeding the underprivileged while Shradh puja also brings all auspicious results. Don’t ignore any beggar who comes across you. Serve him food with the same respect you give to Brahmins. You should use high quality of sesame, the puja becomes highly favourable and good fortune never ends. Sesame has the power to give protection from devil forces. Kusha a kind of holy grass should also be used while performing rituals as it protects from extra-terrestrial devil souls. It is also opportune to use barley, kaangani (a type of millet), mustard, gangajal, cow milk, honey, yogurt and holy basil while conducting Shradh puja.
During this fortnight, people fulfil their traditions wholeheartedly. It is a Hindu belief that if birds and animals eat the offering than it is an indication that the departed soul is happy and has no unfulfilled wishes left. You can get rid from every problem if you serve them with special Shradh food.