In Hindu tradition, Shradh a ceremony that is performed over dead ancestors (pitra or pitru). It is a homage to our deceased relatives at the time of pitru paksha. Usually the male descendants of the family perform the rites for pitra. According to the Hindu religion worshipping our passed away relatives, we get their blessings of health, vigour, prosperity and over all success in life.
And therefore some specific days called Pitra Paksha / Pitru Paksha comes every year. It is a very important time to perform rituals for ancestors that have left their physical bodies. The aspect of showing reverence to forefathers is ‘Shradh’. According to the Hindu calendar, Shradh time is from the full moon date of Bhadrapada to the full moon day of Ashwin every year.
In fact it is believed that during Pitru Paksha, our ancestors comes on earth. From Pitraloka, a region between heaven and earth, they visit earth to meet their relatives and bless them. Tarpan, Shradh, and Pindadan are rituals in hinduism to appease the forefathers in Pitru paksha. By doing this in Pitru Paksha, one gets freedom from Pitra Dosha too. There are some places in the country where the special significance and mythological history of offering and donating to ancestors are prevalent. For example priesta and astrologers recommends pind daan, shraadh, tarpan and pooja for pitra dosha at gaya and pushkar. Specifically these are the places for the pitras.
The ‘tarpan’ or the ‘arghya’ is a sacred offering with love and respect for the satisfaction of pitras (deceased ancestors). The Tarpana is a destiny changer ritual. This pious practice includes many holy substances like cow’s milk, water, sesame seeds, sugar, cardamom, saffron, camphor, and other material according to requirements as directed by Brahmins or pujari who are guiding through Shraadh vidhi. They recite mantras and prayers along with the daan. It is a peace offering to please nine planets and all Lords.
Performing the Shradh ceremony is crucial in the Hindu religion. Our various Hindu religious texts elucidate the importance of Shradh.
According to the Brahma Purana, ‘A person who performs Shraddha with devotion, no one is grieved in his family.’
As per Markandeya Purana, ‘Pitras, satisfied with Shraddha, provide longevity, offspring, wealth, knowledge, happiness, kingdom, heaven and salvation to the Shradh doer and his family’.
According to Garuda Purana, ‘Satisfied with Pitru Pujan (Shraadh Karma), Pitars or ancestors bless with longevity, children, fame, heaven, fame, power, splendour, animals, happiness, wealth and grain to humans.
Furthermore the Karma Purana says that ‘any creature, by whatever method he concentrates and performs Shraddha, is freed from all sins and does not come back again in the vicious cycle of the world’.
When ancestors are satisfied they bestow us with blessings and all kind of happiness. It is like a inheritance, a child gets the belongings of parents if they are happy. Similarly the ancestor who are not present in a body still blesses us if we are doing our duty towards them.
Eventually it signifies that one should fulfil his dharma (duties) towards his parents respectfully in this life too when they are alive.
Pind means ‘body’ and daan mean ‘charity’. The ceremony is a memorial service, an action done with reverence. A human tendency is that when he dies, after death he craves for the physical body and wanders around the universe in his subtle body. So in order to fulfil this wish the boy or a girl of the family grants material body again to the subtle body.
For this reason offering sesame is like a homage to the departed soul. These til or sesame seeds are the symbol of the residual desires in the mind of the deceased one. That is why along with water sesame seeds are poured on to the ground. It is an indication for the subtle body to leave the constricted aversions, desires, and emotions from itself.
Especially for the soul can move forward to the journey breaking the bondage of attachments.
Dos And Don’ts In Shradh, Pitru Paksha
An auspicious day of offering to forefathers is shraddha. The day soul left the body is the day of shraddha in pitru paksha by hindu calendar.
There are some precautions to be adopted while performing this holy ceremony because curse of ancestors can affect the family’s happiness severely. Clear off pitra debt properly otherwise unhappiness of forefathers will not result in happy you. Some of the scriptures recommendations for the Shraadh rites are :
1. Offer black sesame seeds. Black Sesame seeds prevent unforeseen dangers and risks in the family.
2. Consume pure vegetarian meals and a satvik diet during the period of Shraadh.
3. Perform the Shraadh prayers along with family members by putting your affection and emotions during the chants and invoking demised ancestors.
4. Respect and adoration to priests and Brahmins at home should be done assiduously as they are going to guide and perform the shradh rituals.
5. It is believed that our forefathers visit our homes in the form of a dog, crow, and cow. Thus serving the blessed food and feeding them is a representation of service towards our ancestral lineage.
Don’ts in Pitru Paksha
1. Do not consume non-vegetarian food, alcohol, or tamasik food as it can result in harm to the family and result in uncertain events.
2. Do not buy any new items or conduct any big dealings.
3. Perform the vidhi honestly under the guidance of Brahmins as any mistake could lead to the indignation of ancestors.
4. Because it is the time of grief, sorrow and mourning. Any festivities or merrymaking activities should be avoided in this period.
5. Also avoid hair cuts, cutting nails, and shaving in pitru paksha or atleast at the day of shradh.
At the end, we get the blessings in the form of all-round life abundance. So perform Shradh ceremony with faith and devotion. However in the current scenario people do not perform this pious spiritual practice in comparison to past times. In this busy life people are not understanding the importance of the duties towards ancestors. Though it is immensely important religious activity to relieve our unsatiated and distressed ancestors. To ease their stress, to receive their blessings and for their emancipation, Shraadh karma is laid down in Hindu tradition.
Because a single desire left within the subtle bodies is enough to hinder the progress and development of the family and their own journey. Therefore an extensive number of people believed the side effects of ‘Pitra Dosha’ are much more harmful than any grah dosha. The satisfaction of our ancestors is necessary and we should fervently step ahead to cleanse our karma and obtain divine blessings from our demised family members.
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