Five Facts you should Know about Death Anniversary Ritual “Shradh” in Hinduism

It is stated that by offering this puja to the forefathers and departed dear ones, their souls feel gratified and they bless the person with happiness and prosperity

A man performing Hindu rituals. Wikimedia

Sept 18, 2016:  Shradh Puja also known as  Pitru Paksha is a sixteen lunar days period in Hindu Calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors especially through food offerings. The Puja Includes Individual Puja, Sankalp, Brahmin Bhojan and Dakshina.

  • Legend of Pitru Paksha

According to Hinduism, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitru-loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru-loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shradh offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shradh rites, in which Yama plays a significant role. According to the sacred itihas , at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Libra (Thula). Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants’ homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac—Scorpio (Vrichchhika)—and there is a full moon. Hindus are expected to propitiate the ancestors in the first half, during the dark fortnight.

  • Meaning of Shradh Pitru Paksha

Pitru Paksha is considered to be very auspicious by the Hindus. Shradh marks an important time for performing the ritual of Tarpan. Performing Tarpan in Shradh is way to remember and privilege the ancestors for whatever they have passed on to the present generation. Tarpan is considered to be a way to communication with the ancestors to let them know that they are still an integral part of the family and they still alive in our memories.

  • Time of the year when Pitru Paksha or Shradh Puja observed.

The Shradh Puja is observed in the month of Ashwin each year, during Krishna Paksha, which is 15 days, commencing from Purnima (full moon) to Amavasya (dark night). The dates of Shradh Puja in 2016 are commencing from September 16 and ending on October 1.

Hindu Rituals. Wikimedia
  • Significance of Shradh Puja or Pitru Paksha

I.  In Hindu mythology, it is believed that ancestors are with us, they are protecting us from all the hurdles of life, keeping us away from problems, but simultaneously they also want us to pay them respect and remember them. The rituals of Shradh is a way to pay a tribute and gratitude to our ancestors. It is believed that if the rituals are performed us with full faith, love and respect our ancestors get happy and bless us with all the good fortune.

II. We inherit the assets and properties of our ancestors, but at the same time we also inherit the results of their misdeeds. Sometimes, their misdeeds do not allow them to attain the peace after death. This disturbance of their souls can sometimes affect the present generations of the family. The rituals of Shradh helps them in attaining the peace of soul and paying for the misdeeds of their lives.

III. Shradh is considered significant to remove the effects of the unnatural death of family members and attain peace of those souls.

IV. Kaal Sarp Dosh is a kind of sin in the birth chart of an individual. People with Kaal Sarp Dosh are likely to face problems related to money and fertility. Performing Shradh rituals is likely to reduce the effects of this dosh.

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  • Rules of Shradh-

I. When and where : The Shradh is performed during the lunar days of the Ashwin month. The Shradh is performed only at noonday, usually on the bank of a river or lake.

II. Who and for whom: It is essential that Shradh is performed by the son–customarily the eldest or the male relative of the parental branch of the family for the preceding three generations.

III. Food: The food offerings made to the ancestors are usually cooked in earthen vessels and placed on a banana leaf. The food must include kheer, rice, dal, vegetable of spring bean, and a yellow gourd.

IV. Rites of shradh: The males who perform the Shradh should take a purifying bath beforehand and is expected to wear a dhoti. He wears a ring of Kush grass. It is considered that the ancestors are invoked in that ring. The Shradh involves Pinda-Daan which is an offering to the ancestors, accompanying the release of water from hand.

by Enakshi Roy Chowdhury of Newsgram. Twitter: @enakshirc58

  • Antara

    Hindu rituals are really amazing!

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    Really informative article. The significance of Shradh was something that I wanted to know