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.
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.