PITRU PAKSHA - SHRADDHA - MAHALAYA AMAVASYA- SARVAPITRA MOKSHA AMAVASYA


Pitru Paksha is literally "fortnight of the ancestors.. It usually starts right after Ganesha festival and ends with Mahalaya amavasya.. (After  amavasya Navaratri festival begins).


So what is Pitru Paksha ???  It is religious practise performed by  son, to pacify their unsatiated souls.


If death anniversary of ancestors are not known or forgotten then those Shraddhas can be performed on this Tithi.That's why Amavasya Shraddha is also known as Sarvapitra Moksha Amavasya.

During Pitru Paksha,  Pitra or ancestors come near to the earth.  After performing mahalaya Shraddha it is believed,they remain satisfied throughout the year.Annadaana or giving food to the hungry is a central part of the rituals during these 16 days.


Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity,  and salvation  upon the performer.


A shraddha ritual performed on this day is considered as fruitful as one conducted in the holy city of Gaya, which is seen as a special place to perform the rite, and hosts a fair during the Pitru Paksha period.


Story behind Shraddha:

According to hindus, the souls of three preceding generations of one's ancestor reside in Pitru–loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru–loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shraddha offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shraddha rites, in which Yama plays a significant role


When Karna died in the  war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food. However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food. Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory. To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 15–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. This period is now known as Pitru Paksha.


Lord Indra
Karna..



Rites of shraddha

The male who performs the shraddha should take a purifying bath beforehand and is expected to wear a Dhoti. He wears a ring of kush grass. Then the ancestors are invoked to reside in the ring. 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. The shraddha involves pinda-daan, which is an offering to the ancestors of pindas (cooked rice and barley flour balls mixed with ghee and black sesame seeds), accompanying the release of water from the hand. It is followed by the worship of  vishnu in form of the darbha grass, a gold image or shaligram stone and Yama. The food offering is then made, cooked especially for the ceremony on the roof. The offering is considered to be accepted if a crow arrives and devours the food; the bird is believed to be a messenger from Yama or the spirit of the ancestors.
A cow and a dog are also fed, and Brahmin priests are also offered food. Once the ancestors (crow) and Brahmins have eaten, the family members can begin lunch.



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