Pitru Paksha is known as the fortnight of ancestors in the Hindu religion.
This is the 16 lunar day period in the Hindu calendar when the Hindus appease their ancestors by offering them water and rice through a ritual.
This is however deemed as inauspicious among the Hindus because apparently, someone’s death rites are performed. Pitru Paksha is also known as Pitru Pakkha, Sola Sradhha, Kanaghat, Jitiya, Mahalaya Paksha and Apara Paksha. The death rites are performed by Sradh or Tarpan during the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the fortnight immediately after the Ganesh festival.
There are days like Sarvapriti Amavasya, Pitru Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, or simply Mahalaya.
Why the Pitru Paksha rituals are performed?
According to the Hindu religion, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor dwell in the pitru-loka, which happens to be a realm between heaven and earth. The three generations of souls shift to heaven and reunite with god just once the next generation dies. During this time, the three generations in Pitru-loka are given the rites in which Yama has to play a very pivotal role.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Pitru Paksha?
It is said that the puja rituals that are performed during the 16 days should be done under the guidance of a Vedic astrologer to optimize the results. The astrologer will do indepth analysis of your horoscope to perform the rituals in the right order. The main story behind performing Pitru Paksha is rather interesting. According to the Hindu mythology, the Pitru Paksha rituals are attributed to Karna who has donated gold and other precious belongings of him to the have-nots and earned the title of a great charitable person. When Karna died, he went to heaven and he was given golds and jewels to eat and on asking the reason, he was told that he donated only golds and jewels in his entire life but never donated food to the needy. Hence, he was sent off to earth again to perform Sradhh of his ancestors and seek redemption. Since then, Sradh is performed among the Hindus to appease the deceased souls of the ancestors and help them seek redemption and commune with god.
What happens in the ritual?
The main member is asked to perform the rites, to tell you, the eldest son of the family does it. He is asked to take a bath and wear a ring made of Kush grass which is symbolic pf purity. This is followed by Pind Daan, the ritual of offering rice and sesame seed along with water to the ancestors. There is also balls of Barley offered to the ancestors. Lord Vishnu is evoked during this rituals who is humbly asked to bless the deceased soul of the ancestors and lead them to the path of redemption.
During the Pitru Paksha rituals, you are asked not to do something new because this time is considered to be unholy among the Hindus. You can’t wear new clothes or wash your hair for that matter during this period. Pitru Paksha is a very important ritual in Hinduism and is performed throughout the country.