Shraddh: In Remembrance of our Ancestors

Shraddh ritual
Shraddh 2013 or Pitra Paksha has begun on 19th September and will continue till 4th October. Shraddh is an annual ceremony done to satisfy one's ancestors or "Pitru". The word Shraddha is derived from "sraddhayaa deeyate yasmath", meaning something done with great faith. A Shraddh includes Havana (offering of fire), Arghya (offering of water), Pindadhan, Dakshina, feeding of Brahmins, Vikira and Tarpana. 

History behind Shraddha


Varaha Purana explains the origin of Shraddh. According to it, Sage Atreya had a son, Nimi and Nimi too had a son who practiced meditation for many years but died. After the death of his son, Nimi got into an inconsolable state and was sad and restless with his son's memories. To console himself he invited seven Brahmins to his home and offered them the food his son loved. While he was feeding the Brahmins, Sage Narada visited his home and saw the whole act. Seeing this Nimi felt ashamed and felt sorry explaining that he had done all this assuming that he was feeding his own son. Sage Narada assured him that he had done nothing wrong and he should remember his Pitrus with utmost faith and belief. Nimi did the same and got to know that his son was safe in the Pitru Lok with his ancestors and nothing wrong has been done by him. His ancestors blessed him for his deeds. Since then, Shraddha came into existence in Hindu customs.

Importance of Shraddh


South Indian Amavasyant calendar states that Shraddh falls in Bhadrapada (lunar month) whereas, according to the North Indian Purnimant calendar it falls in Ashwin (lunar month). Only the classification of lunar months differ in both cases and the ritual is celebrated on the same days in both the communities. Shraddha is done by the present generation of the ancestors to ensure that the soul of the ancestors will rest in peace forever. In Hindu mythology it is believed that all the sins committed by the ancestors gets cleansed with Shraddha. It is done by taking the names of the ancestors along with the name of their Gotra or family tree. In return, the dead ancestors bless their present generation with health, wealth, long life and prosperity.


Where and when shraddh should be done


Shraddh ceremony is supposed to be done near any temple or on the bank of a river. Though it is done on the date or tithi on which the ancestors died but some exceptions are also associated with it. Fourth and fifth day are reserved for the Shraddha of people who died the previous year. Shraddh of women who died before their husbands is meant to be done on Avidha Navami. For those who died all of a sudden or had violent death, Ghata Chaturdashi is the day. And, Sarvapitri Amavasya is the day for all the forefathers and ancestors.

Correct way to perform the rituals


Shraddh is done by the eldest son of the family or in some cases by the eldest male member of the family. The right costume for performing the rituals is Dhoti and a ring made of Kusha grass. It is must that the member doing the rituals has earlier gone through the sacred-thread tradition. Tarpana is performed by him which means the offerings that are made to the Gods and the ancestors. Pinda-dan is a very important part of the whole ceremony in which rice balls, ghee and barley are offered to the ancestors. Brahmins are fed with grand meal and donations are also made to them. Offering food to cow, crow and dog is also considered good on the day of shraddh. After the whole ceremony is done, the family takes the same food as Prasada.

Shraddha dates for 2013


This year shraddh will begin from 19th September and will continue till 4th October. Let's have a look on each day one by one along with its significance:

19th September (Purnima Shraddha): Shraddh of family members who died on purnima tithi is done this day.

20th September (Pratipada Shraddha): This day is meant to perform Shraddh of maternal grandparents. Even if their death anniversary is not known still their shraddh can be done on this particular day.

21st September (Dwitiya shraddha, tritiya shraddha): Dwitiya shraddha is the day for performing shraddha of those family members who died on dwitiya tithi and for those who died on tritiya tithi, tritiya shraddh is the day.

22nd September (Chaturthi shraddha): Shraddha of family members who died on Chaturthi tithi is done on Chaturthi shraddha.

23rd September (Maha Bharani): It can be done either once after the death of the person or it can also be done every year.

24th September (Panchami shraddha): Panchami shraddha is the shraddha day for the people who died unmarried.

25th September (Shashthi shraddha): Shashthi shraddha also known as Chhath shraddha, is the day meant for the shraddha of people who died on shashthi tithi.

26th September (Saptami shraddha): For the family members who died on Saptami tithi, saptami shraddha is the suggested day.

27th September (Ashthami shraddha): Shraddh of people died on Asthami tithi is done on Ashthami shraddha.

28th September: (Navami shraddha): This day is bested suited for the shraddha ceremony of mothers or any other female member of the family.

29th September (Dashami shraddha): For those died on Dashami tithi, the shraddha day is Dashami shraddha.

30th September (Ekadashi shraddha): Shraddha of family members died on ekadashi tithi is done this day.

1st October (Magha shraddha, Dwadashi shraddha): Dwadashi shraddha is the shraddh day for those family members before death had taken renunciation.

2nd October (Trayodashi tithi): This day is dedicated to perform shraddha of children who left this world very early.

3rd October (Chaturdashi tithi): Shraddh of people who died in an accident, by any weapon, were murdered or had committed suicide is done on chaturdashi tithi.

4th October: (Amavasya tithi): This tithi i.e. Amavasya tithi is the only day when shraddha of any dead family member can be done. If death anniversary of any of the ancestor is not known, then also their shraddh can be performed on this tithi. For this reason it is also known as Sarvapitri Moksha Amavasya. 

What not to do during shraddh days


  • - During shraddh family members should avoid eating non-vegetarian food.
  • - Garlic, onion, drumstick, outside food and alcohol should not be consumed.
  • - Haircut and shaving should also be avoided if possible.
  • - Shopping should also be avoided during this time period. 

Shraddh is not something to be taken lightly. It is best way to show our respect and love to our ancestors. The merits associated with performing shraddh are, happy and misery free life, protection and longevity of family members. The demerit of not performing shraddh is a poor and miserable life of the individual and his family members. Therefore, performing shraddh with complete faith and devotion is a must for one and all.

Chaturthi Shradh


Another important news is that, today is the fourth day of Shradh called Chaturthi Shradha. have. This Chaturthi Shradh is done for those passed away on Chaturthi Thiti.

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