Pitru Paksha puja is a ceremony performed by Hindu families for their ancestors. It is believed that during the period of Pitru Paksha or Shraadh, which falls on 1st September and ends on 17th September this year, 2020, the eldest and earning member of a family should perform puja and donate food and water to priests so that the souls of their ancestors are satiated. In turn, the souls bless the living members with long life, success, wealth and happiness.
According to the Hindu religion, Shraadh is performed by the eldest son of the family. In case there are no sons or he cannot perform the ceremony, a male relative of the paternal side of the family takes this responsibility.
With the changing times, Hindu religion, which is very adjusting to its followers, is open to daughters performing Shraadh, rather than the ceremony not taking place at all. Because if the ancestor's souls are not appeased, it can have a detrimental effect on the living members of the family.
When the daughter is performing the puja, she should take certain precautions as placing a clean cotton cloth on her shoulder while the puja is going on.
Depending on region to region, different people follow different rules. But the most universal rule is not to start any new activity during this period, as these days are meant for the departed souls. No marriages take place during these days and no new items are bought till this period is over. It is not considered auspicious to even get a hair cut during the period of Pitru Paksha. It is advised not to eat non-vegetarian food during this period. Many families do not even include onion and garlic in their food.
On Pitru Paksha, the member who performs the puja should wear a white dhoti after taking bath. It is advisable to get the puja done by a pandit as he will know all the chants that are to be uttered during the ceremony.
The member is expected to wear a sacred thread while performing the puja. He should keep a fast until he has finished performing the rites.
Food and water are offered to the deceased ancestors’ souls (Pitar). Tarpan (Offering) should preferably be performed at the bank of a river and better still if performed while standing in the river with the water touching the belly button. While facing south, water should be offered with the thumb and first finger of the hand.
The food is cooked by members (after bathing) in copper or bronze utensils. It normally includes a sweet dish made with milk, sugar and rice, a vegetable and plain rice. It is preferred to use products made from cow milk like ghee. The food is offered to the pandit first and also to crows, cows, ants, and a dog before partaking it. The Prasad is also served to the poor. Black sesame seeds are sprinkled all over the house and also donated to priests.