Q: Namaste. When does Pitr Paksha begin? According to my calendar it starts on September 3, is that the correct date?
A: Human birth awards us three debts according to Hinduism. They are debt to God, to sages and saints and debt to our ancestors and parents.
Therefore, observing “Pitr Paksha” or “Shradh” rituals are of immense importance.
It is observed so that the soul of one’s ancestor’s can attain peace and liberation. This year, it will start on September 2 and ends on September 17.
As per the holy scripture “Srimad Bhagavad Gita”, the body is destructible but the soul remains immortal.
It is mentioned in the “Brahma Puran” that on the eve of Krishna Paksh of Ashvin month the Lord of death “Yamraj” grants freedom to all the souls so that they can accept and eat the food made by their children on the occasion of Shradh. It is best to observe Pitr Paksha to get ones ancestor’s blessings.
Objectives of performing Shradh:
- Try to free ourselves from debt due to our ancestors and showing appreciation to them.
- If any soul (ancestor) is trapped between the earth and the different platforms surrounding it, performing Shradh, allows them to progress to a higher plane. Hence, they bless us.
Genarally people say during Pitr Paksha all prayers should come to a halt. But this is absolutely incorrect, you can continue your routine prayers and chanting, light your lamp, morning and evening.
In fact, you should take the name of God more so, during this time, so your ancestor’s will receive even more benefits and they will shower you with immense blessings.
However you cannot conduct an “Anushthan” (specific type of prayers).
Foods to offer:
Ancestors only accept vegetarian “Satvik” food. Even if they loved non-veg when they were alive. There is no mention in “Garuda Puran” that one should offer meat. These ancestors are in a different form of being and are repelled by non vegetarian food and hence remain unsatisfied if proper food is not offered. “Satvik “ food means: no onion and garlic; meat or fish, alcohol; egg, etc.
One should fast during this period. The person who is performing the Shradha puja during Pitr Paksha must do it with complete dedication. You should also do it under guidance of a learned priest.
In completing the Shradh, do it on the date your ancestor died. Consult a priest to get to know which is the correct “tithi” (Hindu dates) for you.
The priest will advise you on the appropriate date for a ritual or try to research on the internet.
If you are having difficulty finding the “tithi”, then you can do the proper ritual on “Sarva Pitru Amavasya” which is falling on September 17 this year.
However, full moon, Shradh (food offering) should be done on September 1.
You can offer the priest something to eat as well.
After having lunch, give five different items to the priest. You can give an umbrella, hankerchief, clothes, etc. and money should be given too.
Some items for donation:
Ghee (purified butter), rice, Gangajal (water from the river, Ganga), mustard oil, wheat, salt, steel utensils, shoes, socks or sandals, clothes (towels, dhoti, kurta), fruits, vegetables, black thill (sesame seed) and milk.
- Along with the Brahmins, crows are also fed the same food, as crows are believed to be the messenger from Yama. Along with the crow, dogs and cows are also fed.
- Include tulsi (devi) leaves in your offering. Please note one should not put tulsi in food containing onion and garlic.
Causes of Pitra-Dosha
When ancestors are not happy, the future generation face many problems. This is called “Pitra Dosh” and also can be identified in certain horoscopes.
Pitra Dosha is formed if anyone in the family dies an unnatural death. Sometimes the cause of pitra dosha may be, if a family member kills a cow or a foetus in the womb or gives their parents a difficult time, near the time of their death.
Most Important: According to astrology the best way to avoid “Pitra-Dosha” in ones horoscope, is to look after your parents and support them in their old age.
Things to avoid during Pitr Paksha:
During this time, try to restrain yourself from doing all the things mentioned below.
- Any auspicious event like marriage, a birth ceremony or moving into a new house etc is completely prohibited during this period.
- Try to avoid having a haircut.
- For the entire duration of Pitr Paksh the whole family should avoid eating meat products.
- Avoid eating at another person’s home during this time. However, you can eat at your extended families’ home. This is with the exception of the priests.