Pitru Paksha 2023, also known as Shradh or Shraddh, is a 15-day Hindu ritual dedicated to honoring and remembering one’s ancestors. It is observed with great reverence to ensure the smooth transition of the deceased’s souls into the realm known as Pitru Loka, which is believed to be situated between Heaven and Earth. This ritual is performed by the eldest son of the family and involves various customs and offerings. The 2023 Pitru Paksha is scheduled to commence on September 29th and conclude on October 14th.
During Pitru Paksha, a series of rituals are performed, including:
Preparation of Special Food:
Special food is prepared for the Shraddha rites. This food is first offered to a crow, which is believed to represent Yama, the deity responsible for Pitru Loka, and then offered to priests. Only after these offerings can the family partake in the meal.
According to Hindu mythology, Pitru Loka is the abode of the souls of the three preceding generations. Yama, the god of death, presides over this realm. It is believed that when a person from the succeeding generation passes away, the souls of the first generation are taken to heaven, thereby bringing them closer to God. Shraddh rites are performed for the last three generations residing in Pitru Loka.
- Early Morning Bath: The eldest son of the family begins the day by taking a purifying bath.
- Clean Attire: He dresses in clean clothes for performing the puja.
- Placement of Ancestor’s Picture: An image of the deceased ancestor is placed on a wooden table, typically facing the south direction.
- Offering of Black Sesame Seeds and Barley Seeds: These seeds are offered as part of the ritual.
- Preparation of Pind: Pind, small rice balls, are prepared using ingredients like ghee, honey, rice, goat’s milk, sugar, and barley.
- Tarpan: Water is mixed with flour, barley, kush (a type of grass), and black sesame seeds to perform Tarpan, a ritual offering.
- Charity: Pind and Tarpan are also provided to the needy and poor people, symbolizing the act of giving and helping those in need, which is considered virtuous.
Pitru Paksha is a significant and solemn observance in Hindu culture, emphasizing the importance of remembering and honoring one’s ancestors to ensure their spiritual well-being in the afterlife. It is performed with faith, devotion, and a deep sense of respect for one’s lineage and heritage.