All About Pitru Paksha (Shradh): History, Significance, Facts and Destination
September 19th, 2019
Pitru Paksha, also known as Shradh, is a lot more than just not eating Non-veg, no shopping, no celebrations, and all the negative things attached! Come, let’s take you on a quick tour to help you know what shradh is all about and why its an opportunity to express your gratitude to your ancestors who loved you dearly.
Pitru Paksha (Shradh) is a 16-day period of paying homage to your ancestors who have departed from this materialistic world, as per the Hindu calendar. The period is marked by offering prayers, food, and daan to the needy and the priests in the temple. All the rituals and prayers are performed in respect and remembrance of the ancestors who left for the heavenly abode and to wish them well wherever they are.
History of Shradh
Do you know how the 16-days of shradh came into existence? Read till the end to know the unknown story behind the beginning of Shradh. As per ancient folklore, when Karna, Kunti’s first son from Mahabharata died, he went to heaven and was offered gold and precious jewels, to which Karna asked Indra that he wish to have food and water, and not these precious jewels. Hearing that Indra replied to Karna that he only donated gold and jewels to people all his life and never offered food and water in the name of his ancestors.
To this, Karna told Indra that he didn’t know about his ancestors because he was blessed by Surya deva, the lord of light and day, to his mother, and he has no clue of his ancestors. After this Karna was sent to earth for a period of 15 days so that he could perform shradh for his ancestors and donate food and water. Since then, this period of 15 days is regarded as pitru paksha.
As documented in the Garuda Purana Shradh holds major significance in the first year of death. As per the ancient scriptures, it is believed that the soul starts traveling to Yamapuri on the 14th day after death and reaches there in 17 days. They again travel for 11 months to reach the court of Yamaraj. It is said that till the time the soul reaches the court, it has no access to food, water, and clothes. The daan, tarpan, and offerings that we perform during Pitru paksha reach these souls and satisfy their hunger and thirst.
How Shradh is Performed?
The shradh puja is performed by a male member, mostly the eldest male member of the family, or the eldest son. The shradh requires the participation of a Karta (the doer) and a pandit (the priest). The puja begins when a pandit comes home to perform a havan, after the havan, rice is offered to the departed souls, which is followed by offering food to the pandit.
The puja concludes with Dakshina and Daan to the pandit and the needy people. A part of the food that is prepared is also offered to crows, dogs, and cows. In case the date or the tithi of the deceased is not known to anyone then the Shradh ceremonies are performed on Amavasya, the last day of shradh.
What is Pind Daan
Pind Daan is a duty that every child needs to perform for his deceased parents. Pind Daan is performed by a priest and a food ball made of rice and wheat flour is offered to the departed souls. Offering this special food is considered as Pind Daan. It is believed that after performing the Pind Daan our ancestors achieve moksha.
Interesting Facts about Shradh
If you are someone who always thought why the food prepared in Shradh was offered to specific animals then scroll down to know the story and significance behind it.