The various rituals performed during Shradh or Pitru paksha are a way of seeking forgiveness from the departed souls. This can also be termed as a way to confess our guilt about the inefficiency to serve our elders. Also if knowingly or unknowingly we had performed actions of hurt or pain for them. Shradh is a period of introspection and overcoming our own weaknesses.
Scientifically we may say that our services in the form of food or pind daan may not be received directly by our ancestors; but our noble intentions for them are surely received. Our humility and love is transmitted to the souls and moreover in order to adore them, we feed the needy and poor people.
By offering charity and donations for the happiness of our ancestors, we make an effort to contribute something for the welfare of humanity. Thus this period of shradh is actually an eye opener where people contribute their time, effort, wealth and even love to those who need it, in the reflection of their dead ancestors.
Moreover performing fast during this period is purely a healthy act of rejuvenation. This reveals that shradh is purely an occasion of performing noble and humble acts, in honour of our loving departed souls.
Pitru Paksha is a special time period during the Hindu year when Hindus pay homage to the departed souls of their ancestors by performing Shradh rituals at holy locations. Few of such sacred locations are as follows:
Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the seven sacred spots for Hindus and is widely known as the ‘Religious capital of India’. Pindan puja or Shanti Paath in Varanasi helps the soul attain salvation through fulfilment.
Allahabad: Situated at the confluence of three holy rivers: Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati; the city of Allahabad is piously sacred and important. To perform Pind Daan Kriya ceremony at the sangam ghat is considered highly auspicious for the departed souls; especially during Pitru Paksha Mela.
Ayodhya: Ayodhya is the birth place of Hindu God Shri Ram, said to be located above the Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu. Bharata Kund is a sacred place for offering Pind Daan kriya. It is believed that the departed souls attain salvation if the Shradh rituals are performed here.
Ujjain: One of the religious destinations of India, the city has wide range of religious and spiritual interest. By performing Pind daan kriya in Ujjain, the unfulfilled desires and services can be provided to the departed souls.
Haridwar: Haridwar as a place is known for its importance in conducting puja towards all deities as well as towards our deceased ancestors. The pujas including Pind Daan and yearly shraddha ritual can be performed here and have high religious importance.
Mathura: The city of majestic temples and huge religious history is believed to be the sacred place for performing pujan and tarpan to the pitras.
Kurukshetra: The historic and religious importance is widely known by all. Performing shradh ceremonies on the bank of river Saraswati frees the departed soul from the cycle of birth and death.
Gaya: The ancient city in Bihar on the banks of the river Phagu is quite important in Hinduism and is eternally blessed by the power of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the holiest locations for performing Shradh rituals.
Jagannath Puri: Situated on sea shore of Bay of Bengal in State of Orissa, the city caters to the religious needs of lakhs of devotees. It is widely known for conducting shradh rituals for the departed souls.
Dwarka: Being one of the 4 dhams, the place is one of the known moksh-daayi cities. The city is highly auspicious for performing shradh rites, as it is the city of Lord Krishna himself.
The auspicious 15 days ‘Pitru paksha’ period or shradh is a form of attachment or guilt within us that restricts us to lead a normal day to day life. It disturbs and haunts us day and night in our thoughts as we have a feeling of regret within us for the dead person. Thus shradh ceremony or any such offerings are the ways to fulfil the unfulfilled desires of our ancestors.
Certain things have to keep into consideration during this period to faithfully and ritualistically please our ancestors.
- Stand on the mat during sunrise and chant ‘Gayatri mantra’ to strengthen the position of Sun in your horoscope.
- In the south direction of your habitat, hang portraits of your ancestors and greet them with fresh flowers garland.
- Feed cows with ghee and rice balls every Saturday.
- Use of barley, Kaangani- a type of millet, peas, sesame seed and mustard in Shradh puja are considered highly auspicious and fortunate.
- Shradh karma should not be performed on land occupied by others therefore river banks and holy pilgrimages are preferred.
- Helping the poor and disabled and remembering your ancestors is an easy path to receive blessings for them.
- Respect and seek blessings from the elders at our home, as their blessings are the only way to receive peace and happiness.
- Offer regular donations to hospitals or temples in the name of our ancestors and if possible, assist in the education and marriage of orphan girls.
- Recitation of Garuda Puraan i.e. the passage of the departing soul, Nachiketa story from Upanishads and Ganga Avataran chapter from Ramayan are done to ensure the satisfaction of our ancestors.
- Perform fasting on Ekadashi and if possible organize the Agni Homa or Havan during this period.
- Gram, lentil, black gram, horse gram, barley, radish, black cumin, Bauhinia, cucumber, black gram, black salt, gourd, large mustard, leaf of black mustard and stale, rotten fruit or grain, are prohibited in Shradh puja.
- Avoid consumption of non-vegetarian food, alcohol and other such tamasic edibles along with outside food.
- Avoid starting anything new, even something seemingly as insignificant as buying and wearing new clothes, washing hair, cutting hair and even shaving are proscribed during the period.
- Important events like shifting to a new house, marriage, birth ceremonies of a child, inauguration of new business and other such significant celebrations should be avoided during this period.
The recent interview of our Prime Minister Modi Ji with the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has truly honoured every Indian by the efforts of our dynamic PM. This meeting portrayed India in entirely different colours by highlighting the potential of this nation. Yet the main attraction of this talk was the mention by Mark about the Indian temple; which he was advised to visit by late Steve Jobs.
Yes we all are aware about the huge religious and spiritual background of our country but it is surprising to know the faith of foreigners in our devotional land. Zuckerberg told Mr Modi of this little known incident. He said that the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs urged him to visit a temple in India at a time when Facebook “wasn’t doing so well.”
The temple about which he was referring to is the Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital, in the state of Uttarakhand. This is Neem Karoli or Neeb Karori Baba’s Ashram, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Hanuman. In 1962, Baba Neem Karoli built a platform where two spiritual gurus Sombari Maharaj and Sadhu Premi Baba performed their ‘Yagyas’ and later the ashram was built. Neem Karoli Baba has ashrams at different places including Lucknow and Texas, US.
The zodiacal sign of Cancer commences on June, 21st, but for seven days, being overlapped by the previous sign, it does not come into full power until on or about June 28th. It is in full strength until on or about July 20th.
The sign of cancer- the crab, was so called by the ancients because the sun at this time of the year appears to advance and retreat in the heavens like actions of a crab.
- These people are full of contradictions; they have deep home interests, but are at the same time restless, and have a decided longing for travel and change.
- They succeed in making their homes and their domestic life.
- They are generally over anxious in financial matters, and make great efforts to gather in money, as a rule, they have unusual ups and downs in their life.
- They are inclined to speculate, so as to make money quickly but in all the gambles they generally lose, whereas in business they are as a rule most successful.
- They are industrious and hardworking in all they undertake, but from the standpoint of chance or luck they are seldom fortunate.
- They are generally gifted with strong imaginations, and often make excellent artists, writers, composers, or musicians.
- At heart they are romantic and of a very loving and affectionate disposition.
- They have a great dislike of being dictated to, but are most devoted and faithful when treated with confidence.
- They have the most sensitive nature and if not understood, they quickly give up or get depressed and melancholy.
- They often make excellent psychics, and usually have a yearning after the mysterious.
- They should never marry young, for their nature seems to change at different stages of life.
- People born in this zodiac often reach very high exalted positions. In their home lives, however, they usually go through a great deal of trouble, and are seldom surrounded by great happiness, no matter how successful they may appear in the eye of the world.
- They have deep love for what they call “their own people,” for family customs and tradition.
- They are chiefly inclined towards gastric troubles, and they should be extremely careful in regard to shellfish and such things.
- The colours most in harmony for them are all shades of green, and cream and white.
- The birth stones most favourable for this period are pearls, diamonds, opals crystals, cat’s eyes, and moonstones.
The number 7 stands in symbolism for the Planet Neptune, and represents all persons born under the 7, namely those who are born on the 7th, 16th, or 25th of any month, but more especially influences such persons if they are born from the 21st June to July 20th– 27th, the period of the zodiac called the ‘House of the Moon’.
- These are people are very independent, original, and have strongly marked individuality.
- At heart they love change and travel, being restless in their natures. If they have the means of gratifying their desires they visit foreign countries and become keenly interested in the affairs of far of far off lands.
- They often make extremely good writers, painters, or poets, but in everything they do, they sooner or later show a peculiar philosophical outlook on life that tinges all their work.
- They care little about the material things of life; they often become rich by their original ideas or methods of business.
- The women of this number generally have a successful marriage, and have an anxious nature about future.
- They are also interested in matters concerning the sea, and in trade or business; they often become merchants, exporters, and importers, dealing with foreign countries.
- They have peculiar ideas about religion. They dislike to follow the beaten track, they create a religion of their own, but one that appeals to the imagination and based on the mysterious.
- They people usually have remarkable dreams and a great leaning to occultism; they have the gift of intuition, clairvoyance, and a peculiar quieting magnetism of their own that has great influence over others.
- These people go really well with number 2 as it is also the Moon number. Thus people born in the ‘House of the Moon’ make great friends.
- The lucky days of the week for them are the same as for the number 2 people, namely, Sunday and Monday; especially if their own number falls on one of the 1, 2, or 4 number dates.
- Their lucky colours are all shades of green, also white and yellow, and they should avoid all dark heavy colours. Lucky stones for them are moonstones, ‘cat’s eyes, and pearls, and if possible, they should wear a piece of moss against their skin.
An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when one object in the sky moves into the shadow of another. In case of Lunar Eclipse, moon becomes partly or fully invisible due to the Earth blocking sun rays to it and casting shadow on it. It takes place on Purnima (full moon night) only, yet it’s not necessary to have eclipse on all Purnima.
Researchers have proven that at the time of eclipse the level of Raja- Tama component increases and the Sattva component decreases. They may have detrimental effects on the beings as the negative energies become quite dominant then the positive energies.
Why one should not eat during eclipse time?
No cooked food should be consumed during the stages of lunar eclipse because the food turns poisonous; when it is affected by the ultra violet rays during lunar or solar eclipse. Therefore the Hindus follow the tradition of keeping a kusha (a grass serving as non- conductor of electrical waves) and tulsi leaves (anti-bacterial) on cooked food and generally observe fasting.
Why to take bath after the eclipse?
One should take bath in the holy Ganges, sacred rivers, and ponds or even at home as a symbol of cleanliness and purity. It is believed that after eclipse the water exposed to the process becomes totally pure- like of river Ganga. Thus having a bath with pure water cleanses our body and soul.
Why to give charity during eclipse time?
As mentioned before, the effect of negative energies become dominant so to get rid of its effect, the noble deed of charity is good to the weaker section of the society. People may donate food, clothes, coins, lands, and copper or silver or good metal, as per their choice.
Why is it advised not to see the eclipse?
One should not see the eclipse with naked eyes as the Ultraviolet rays can seriously damage the eyes. We may turn blind or face damaging impact on the retina of the eye.
Message from the Lunar eclipse:
The blocking of the Moon’s reflection of the Sun’s light by the Earth suggests that our material viewpoint stands in the way of our “seeing the light”. It serves as a reminder that we need to realize how we are held in the dark by virtue of our perspective. Thus this is an excellent time to let go of the past and welcome the positive thoughts and behaviours.
(The lunar eclipse on September 28, 2015 is a total eclipse. This event is visible from Europe, Africa, the Americas, the eastern Pacific and western Asia.)