What is Pitru Paksha?
Pitru Paksha is a 16 days period when Hindu community offer prayers and honor their ancestors. This period begins on the first full moon (Purnima) following Ganesh Chaturthi and ends on the Peddala Amavasya.
This is the opportunity for the devotees to honor their ancestors and forefather and pay respect to them by offering them food and water. The starting date depends on the North Indian or the South Indian calendar that the devotees follow. These days are considered to be very auspicious to perform the rites after death like (Daan, Tarpan & Shradh).
History of Pitru Paksha
As per the ancient Indian history, when Karn passed away during the war of Mahabharat and his soul reached heaven, he didn't get to eat regular food. Instead, he was given gold and jewels to eat. His soul got frustrated and he addressed this issue to Indra (Lord of heaven) that why is he not being served the actual food? Then Lord Indra revealed the actual reason that He donated all these things to others throughout his life but never gave the same to his ancestors. Then Karna replied that he didn't know of his ancestors and after hearing him out, Lord Indra allowed him to return back to Earth for the period of 15 days so that he can donate food to his ancestors. This 15-day period came to be known as Pitru Paksha.
Pitru Paksha Shraddh - Customs And Traditions
During the Pitru Paksha, Shraddha is performed. The process of this ritual may be different from one person to the other but usually, it has 3 parts:-
- The first part is called as Pind Daan where Pind is offered to the Pitrus (Ancestors). Pind is nothing but the rice balls which are usually made with the Ghee, honey, rice, Goat’s milk, sugar and occasionally barley.
- The second part is referred to as Tarpan where water mixed with flour, barley, Kusha Grass & black sesame is offered to the Ancestors.
- The third and the last part of this ceremony is offering food to the Brahmin priests. Devotees should read out the tales from the holy scriptures.
Apart from these processes mentioned above, devotees should refrain from certain things. For example, during the Pitru Paksha like nonvegetarian food shouldn't be eaten, Hair should not be cut, and one should not eat tamsic food like garlic, onion, etc. Any new project or endeavor or purchase of a new home or a new vehicle should also be avoided during this phase.