Pitru Paksha, also known as Shraadh, is a 16-lunar day period in the Hindu Calendar, which is dedicated for the ancestors. The eldest son in a Hindu family pays respect to the departed souls of the family by performing “Tarpan” or “Shraadh”, especially through food and water offerings.
Pitru Paksha starts from Bhadrapada Purnima and ends on Ashwin Amavasya (Also known as Sarva Pitru Amavasya).
Importance of Pitru Paksha
According to Hindu religion, it is of paramount importance for a son to perform Pitru Paksha for his ancestors to keep them content and to repay the debt of being nurtured by them. In return, the ancestors bless them with health, wealth, knowledge, longevity and also clear the passage towards heaven for them, when they die.
Most Hindus believe that without the blessings of their ancestors, no work that they undertake, will ever be successful.
Story of Pitru Paksha
According to legends, when Karna, known for his generosity, died during the Mahabharata war and his soul reached heaven; he was offered jewels and gold to satiate his hunger. Surprised, he went to the Lord of Heaven, Indra, and asked for an explanation. Lord Indra reminded him that he had always donated gold and other riches to anyone in need, but never food and water to his ancestors during Shraadh.
In order to make amends, Karna was allowed to return to Earth for a period of 15 days (Pitru Paksh) and donate food and water in the memory of his ancestors.
When should you perform Pitru Paksha tarpan?
There are certain rules that are followed for offering the Pitru Paksha tarpan. Days are allocated to the different types of death. For example-
Pitru Paksha is performed for those who died the previous year on Chautha Bharani and Bharani Panchami , the 4rth and 5th day of the Lunar period.
The 9th day is for the women who died before their husband.
The 12th day is for children and ascetics.
The 14th day(Ghayala Chaturdashi), is for people who suffered a violent death.
For those who are not aware of the day their ancestors died, or those who want to perform Tarpan for more than one departed soul; the last day, Sarvapitri Amavasya, is reserved for the ceremony.
Pitru Paksha connection with Gaya
In Hinduism, it is believed that Gaya, a city in Bihar, is the most sacred place to perform Pitru Paksha as Lord Rama performed this ceremony for his father, Dasharatha, here on the banks of the pious Falgu River.
Devotees pray in the Vishnupada Temple, located in Gaya, where Lord Vishnu’s (Whose incarnation is Lord Rama) footprint is present while seeking salvation for the departed soul.
While it is best if the person himself performs the ceremony for his ancestors, if he cannot do so due to some reason, he can ask a pandit to do on his behalf. Now-a-days, one can perform this ceremony online by paying a small fee to the pandit.Consult our expert astrologers online to learn more about the festival and their rituals.