Shraddha is a ritual in Hindu religion that is performed to pay tribute to one’s ancestors and deceased relatives. In Sanskrit, Shraddha signifies any event or activity that is done with sincerity, usually to express gratitude. It is believed that performing Shraddha pacifies the adversities of the deceased and pleases them.
According to Scriptures, humans are under three types of debts, namely, ‘debt to a God’, ‘debt to a sage’ and ‘debt to the forefathers’. It is considered to be of utmost importance to paying debt to the father because our parents have worked hard to keep us healthy and provide us with all the necessities that are required to live a comfortable life. Human life is considered to be incomplete without paying off the ‘debt to the father’. Shraddha is done to lay bare our love and respect for our forefathers and relatives who are pushing up the daisies. Ashwin Kirshn Paksh is also called Pitru Paksh, Shraddh Paksh or Mahalay Paksh. Shraddh is performed during this time for the deceased on the basis of the dates of their death. It is believed that by performing Shraddha our forefathers are pleased and the person performing it receives blessings and luck. In this duration it is believed that auspicious events should not be conducted, new clothes should not be bought or stitched, massages should not be taken and hair should not be cut.
Types of Shraddha
It is believed that Shraddha is of two types- Paarvan and Ekoddisht
Paarvan Shraddh is performed for father, paternal grandfather, great grandfather (paternal), maternal grandfather, great grandfather (maternal) and their wives. While Ekodisht Shraddha is performed for teacher, father-in-law, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, student, son, friend, uncle and their wives.
Deceased relatives and Shraddha dates related to them-
- The lunar date at which the relative passed away, their Shraddha is performed on the same date during Ashwin Kirshna Paksha.
- Shraddha of women whose husband is still alive, is performed on the Ninth day of Ashwin Kirshna Paksha.
- Shraddha of the sages is done on the Twelfth day of Ashwin Kirshna Paksha.
- Shraddha of relatives whose cause of death was a plane crash, snake bite, poison or an attack by a weapon in performed on the Fourteenth day of Ashwin Kirshna Paksha.
- Shraddha of relatives whose death date is not known, is done on Ashwin Amavasya.
- Shraddha of relatives who passed away on the day of Purnima is performed on Bhaadrapad Purnima or Ashwin Amavasya.
- Shraddha of maternal grandparents is done on Ashwin Shukla Pratipada.
Procedure of Shraddha
- On the date of Shraddha, one needs to wake up early and take bath (in a holy river, if possible). After that he should perform the Tarpan. Offer water along with sesame seeds, kusha grass and rice (akshat) to the Pitras.
- Following that, perform the Shraddha and feed the Brahmins after noon, after which you may eat.
- According to the scriptures, women who don’t have a son can perform the Shraddha of their husband themselves.
- It is believed that a Shraddha done during this frame of time at Gaya (a sacred place in Bihar) is much beneficial than those performed at other places.
- Usually, a Shraddha is performed by the eldest male of the family.
If a Shraddha is performed according to the above stated procedure, the relative of the deceased are blessed with fame and prosperity. It is believed that performing Shraddha pleases our forefathers and they bless the performer with long life, prosperity and happiness. Praying for the forefathers increases prosperity, fame, long life, happiness and wealth in the life of the performer.