Shradh or Pitru Paksha is a period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, primarily through food offerings. It is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shradh.
It falls in the 2nd paksha (fortnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the fortnight immediately after the Ganesh festival. It begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Pitru Amavasya,
What is the relevance of Pitru Paksha?
Pitru Paksha is an occasion to appease the departed souls by performing Shradh rituals. Hindu scriptures like the Agni Puran, Garuda Puran and Vayu Puran have explained the significance of Shradh. It is believed that the God of Death Yama himself explained the importance of Shradh performed on Pitru Paksha.
When Shradh is performed, the food offered on that day nourishes the subtle-body of an ancestor for the whole year. So long as there are desires and expectations, the deceased individual expects food from his descendants on that particular day.
By performing Shradh, not only are the desires of pitrus fulfilled, but they also get energy for their onward journey. Hence, when Shradh is performed regularly, over a period, their desires diminish, and they begin to acquire momentum. Also, as per the rules laid down by the scriptures, it is appropriate that so long as we are alive, we should perform the Pitru Paksha Puja as a token of gratitude towards our pitras,
Key points to keep in mind while performing the Pitru Paksha Puja:
1- The male who performs the shraddha should take a purifying bath beforehand and is expected to wear a dhoti.
2- The shraddha is usually performed bare-chested, as the position of the sacred thread worn by him needs to be changed multiple times during the ceremony.
3- Use cow's milk products like curd or ghee for the puja and food preparations.
4- The food must be offered in silver utensils. Silver is believed to resist the evil forces.
5- It is auspicious to use barley, Kaangani, peas and mustard in the puja.
6- Sesame should be used for the puja as it brings good luck and fortune to the family.
7- Kheer must be prepared and offered in the puja. It is an indispensable part of this puja.
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During the period of Shradh, Hindus offer food to Brahmins after the Pitru Paksha Puja. Brahmins observe the food in silence while remembering the deceased in their prayers.
Food or Prasad is also served to the poor and needy people. It is also recommended to keep a small portion of the prepared meal for crows, dogs and cows separately.
Feeding crows and its relevance
During the shradh rites, the pitrus are invoked by offering a pinda. The unfulfilled desires of the pitrus are fulfilled through the pinda. Since a human being has several desires, his subtle-body releases Raja-Tama-predominant waves. Crow attracts the maximum amount of Raja-Tama-predominant waves; it can perceive such waves. When the subtle-body of the pitrus gets attracted to the pinda, it gets charged with Raja-Tama-predominant waves.
The crow gets attracted towards these waves. The crow’s pecking at the pinda is an indicator that the pitrus were invoked and they were satisfied with the offering. Thus, feeding a crow becomes a medium between the subtle-bodies with unfulfilled desires and human beings.
Feeding a crow is an inevitable part of Pitru Paksha Puja.
This year, Shradh Paksha is from September thirteen until twenty-eight. It is essential that Shradh is performed by the son or male relative of the paternal family. The ancestors, the current generation and the next generation, are connected by blood ties.
The current generation repays their debt to the ancestors in the Pitru Paksha. This debt is considered of utmost importance along with a person's debt to his gurus and his parents.
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With Ganesha’s Grace,
The GaneshaSpeaks.com Team