Pitru Paksha will start on September 29 and end on October 14 this year. This 16-day period is the time when Hindus pray to their ancestors and perform the ritual of Shraddha or Tarpanam for the departed souls. It is held in the Bhadrapada month of Lunar and starts after the full moon day as per the South Indian calendar and in the Ashwin month of Lunar in Bhadrapada as per the North Indian Purnima calendar. Pitru Paksha is also called Mahalaya and is the time marked to offer respect to the ancestors. The 15 days called Pitru Paksha or Shraddha Paksha are known by various names as Kanagat. The Ashwini month’s dark half, which is between September and October, is celebrated as Pitru Paksha by Hindus across the country.
However, when it comes to the rituals, there is no difference, as both perform Shraddha of the ancestors. This year, the Pitru Pakha spans 16 days, and during this time, a variety of food is given to the ancestors. It is said that it is a powerful time to make the ancestors content and happy. It is also a ritual where the negative energies are cleared and the soul of the departed can be liberated after detaching themselves from people and worldly things. Performing rituals on behalf of the ancestors helps make their journey to the nether world smoother.
Shraddha Paksha’s Importance
As per Hindu tradition, the belief is that the actions of the previous life are carried into this life. People must do their unfinished work that is due to the ancestors to help bring comfort and also for them to continue on their journey to heaven without any hindrances. So Shraddh and Tarpanam rituals are important things to perform. It is a way of offering them regard for what they have given and also honouring the departed. The period of Pitru Paksha is the best time to offer food and other donations as charity. It comes before Sharad Navaratri and is a period where you show respect to the departed. It is an integral part of all Hindu families and is the best time to offer Tarpanam. This period of 15 days is dedicated to the forefathers or ancestors every year.
The significance of it is also mentioned in many holy scriptures like the Garuda Puran, Vayu Puran, and Agni Puran. Shraddha is not a new trend but has been a longstanding tradition that is done to remember the departed. While there may be regional variations when it comes to the South and North Indian calendars when it comes to the Shraddha ritual, it is done on the same days, and the final day is called Mahalaya Amavasya.
Shraddha Paksha Legend
There is a legend attached to Shraddha Pakska. As per that, when Karna, the warrior king, dies after the war of Mahabharatha, his soul goes to heaven. He was given jewels and gold as food instead of edible food. He could not sustain himself on an empty stomach for long and went to seek help from Indra, the lord of heaven, as to why he was not given real food. To that Lord Indra told Karna that all his life, Karna had donated only jewels and gold and did not give food to his ancestors, because of which he is not getting food in heaven. To this, Karna said that he was not aware of who his ancestors were and so did not offer food. Indira then agreed to send Karna back to earth for redemption for fifteen days. Karna then offered food to his ancestors in their memory. This period of fifteen days when Karna returned to Earth is called Pitru Paksha.
Pitru Paksha Dos
• Offer food to the needy or the poor. Every living thing should be fed, so provide food to ants, cows, dogs, crows, and all other living beings.
• Perform rituals after seeking guidance from a priest on the best time and location. One should not perform Shraddha at night, dawn, or dusk, and hence it is best to know the right time to do the ritual.
• The ancestors come in many forms, and hence, you should treat every animal and being with love and respect.
• Men should do the rituals donning a Dhoti
• Pind Daan is an important ritual. It is a mix of rice and sesame seeds. These should be given to crows who are messengers of your ancestors or of Yama, the God of death.
• Be calm and quiet during this period. It is a time for being cooperative, kind, and courteous. It is also a time for repentance and asking for forgiveness.
Pitru Paksha Don’ts
• Do not consume non-vegetarian food. Also, foods like black salt, black mustard, onion, garlic, brinjals, cucumber, masoor dal, jeera, and black urad dal should not be used.
• Avoid alcohol and consumption of supari and paan.
• Do not perform any auspicious functions
• No new items—houses, vehicles, or other luxury and comfort items should be bought at this time. All indulgences are forbidden.
• Do not shave, or cut your hair or beard during this time. It has to be done before the start of Pitru Paksha.
• Do not use iron objects or iron utensils. Instead, use copper, brass, or silver.