Shraddh paksha or Pitra Paksha is one of the major events of celebration as well as nostalgia for the Hindu people who remember their deceased ancestors in the fifteen days which have started from 17th of September.
Offering oblations to forefathers is the essential duty of Putra or the son which itself means that the one which shall deliver the father and ancestors from the dark regions of hell by his devotional service to Lord Hari or by following the principles of Vedic system.
As per Srimad Bhagwatam (9.18.44)
अधमोऽश्रद्धया कुर्यादकर्तोच्चरितं पितुः ॥४४॥
A son who acts by anticipating what his father wants him to do is first class, one who acts upon receiving his father’s order is second class, and one who executes his father’s order irreverently is third class. But a son who refuses his father’s order is like his father’s stool.
Puru, Yayati’s last son, immediately accepted his father’s proposal, for although he was the youngest, he was very qualified. Puru thought, “I should have accepted my father’s proposal before he asked, but I did not. Therefore I am not a first-class son. I am second class. But I do not wish to become the lowest type of son, who is compared to his father’s stool.” One Indian poet has spoken of putra and mutra. putra means “son,” and mutra means “urine.” Both a son and urine come from the same genitals. If a son is an obedient devotee of the Lord he is called putra, or a real son; otherwise, if he is not learned and is not a devotee, a son is nothing better than urine.
The Shraddh which falls on Navami tithi is called Navami Shraddh and it is performed for the ones who passes away on Navami Tithi.
To find out the tithi on which your deceased passes away, click here
It is also known as Matra Navami shraddh i.e. the day on which the sharaddh of deceased mothers is performed whose date is not known to us.
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In the pretext of mahabharata, Gandhari is the wife of maharaj Dhritarastha, the blind king. She is regarded as the epitome of chastity and devotion to her husband. Even as a maiden, she was very humble and devoted in her services to the saints and Lord Shiva, the devotee vaishnava of Lord Sri Krishna, the center of Mahabharata.
Lord Shiva appeared before her. Gandhari asked for herself only the boon that she may be blessed with a long and fulfilling married life, and that she may never deviate from the path of womanly virtue. Impressed with a maiden of such strong mettle, Lord Shiva granted her the boon she wanted, saying that she would be renowned on earth and in heaven as a pati-vrata, a woman devoted to her husband, that she would rank with Arundhati and Anusuya for her merit as an ideal wife, and further that she would be the mother of a hundred sons.
She was a pativrata nari and was highly devoted to her husband. At the time of her marriage. when she came to know that her husband was blind, she also took a vow to blindfold her for the whole life. As a result of such austerity, she acquired powers to bless her son Duryodhana with powers to become invincible.
Veda Vyasa is impressed with Gandhari’s devotion to her husband and gives her a boon to have a hundred sons. She gets pregnant but carries the child for an unusually long period. Later she hears that Kunti (queen of king Pandu, younger brother of Dhritharashtra) has given birth to Pandavas, and in frustration she pounds on her stomach. A small grey mass comes out of her. Veda Vyasa divides this into 101 parts and keeps them in cool earthen pots filled with clarified butter i.e. ghee to incubate. First Duryodhana comes out, followed by 99 brothers and one sister, Dushala.
All of Gandhari’s sons were killed in the war against their cousins, the Pandavas, at Kurukshetra, specifically at the hands of Bhima. Upon hearing the news, it is said that through a small gap in the blindfold, her gaze fell on Yudhishthira’s toe. His clean toe was charred black due to her wrath and power. When she heard the news of the death of all the sons of Pandavas(Upapandavas), she embraced the Pandavas and consoled them for their losses. Later her wrath turned to Krishna for allowing all this destruction to happen. She cursed that he, his city and all his subjects would be destroyed. Lord Krishna knew and wanted this to happen and said “tathastu”(so be it). She tried to take back that curse, but Krishna says that curse was irrevocable and anyhow Yadavas’ destruction was fated. Her curse took its course 36 years after the great war when Yadu dynasty perished after a fight broke out between yadavas at a festival. Lord Krishna ascended to his heavenly abode after living for 126 years. The golden city of Dwarka drowned exactly seven days after his disappearance.
The monotonous tiring journey gets a halt, or the time to rejuvenate our body, mind and soul during the festive season. Festivals are a source to revive the feeling of togetherness and spread the aura of love and humanity around. It brings back the essence of realizing our true self and gaining immense energy from the vast Universe.
Navaratri are the nine days of joy, enthusiasm, fun and celebration to cherish the victory of good over evil. Literally ‘Nav’ refers to nine and ‘Ratri’ is night, so Navratri is the nine nights and ten days period to receive the powerful grace of Ma Durga. Navratri is celebrated twice a year in the month of Ashwin and Chaitra as per Hindu calendar, which are the season of revival in the nature. At this time our mother nature goes through the changes in nature from one season to another and inspires us to adapt to the similar qualities like them. Animals and birds hibernate, fresh flowers and leaves arrive, the entire nature is recycled in their own way to offer comfortable living to the beings. Mother Nature is the source of our rejuvenation process, similar to our birth mother who takes care of us and loves us selflessly. The festival highlights the importance of mother in our existence, therefore Goddess Durga is worshipped in varied forms to adore and praise her glories.
Goddess durga is the divya-shakti, which can be a bounty of love and care as well as the source of destruction too. She symbolises the power of divine mother as even the Gods pay homage to her strength. Adoring Ma durga during nine days by keeping fasts and worshipping her is the perfect way to realize our upmost goal and motive of existence, which gets blur in the magical world of materialism. The ten days celebration is the triumph of positive over negative by ending the existence of demons. Actually the demon refers to the increase in negative feelings within us that transforms us into ‘asur’.
So the ten malefic traits that mark the increase in devilish nature are as follows:
- Kaam (Lost)
- Krodh (Anger)
- Lobh (Greed)
- Moh (Attachment)
- Ahankar (Ego)
- Darr (Fear)
- Irsha (Jealousy)
- Jadta (Inertia)
- Nafrat (Hate)
- Paschataap (Guilty)
These qualities are won over by the individual in the ten days revival process and finally cherished by them to celebrate the victory of goodness. The tenth day is Vijaya Dasami or widely known as Dusshera, celebrated around India to express the feeling of happiness after attaining the positive strength and getting rid of ill powers.
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Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja