Hindus around the world are currently preparing for the highly anticipated Pitru Paksha, which is also known as Mahalaya Paksha or Shraddha Paksha. This auspicious time falls during the waning fortnight of the Indian month of Bhadrapada, also known as Bhadon. The Pitru Paksha begins on September 29 and ends on October 14, 2023, offering Hindus a chance to honour their ancestors and pay tribute to their departed loved ones.
The rituals of Pitru Paksha are observed over fifteen days and involve performing spiritual ceremonies and providing food offerings to the deceased. These rituals are believed to help the departed souls attain ‘moksha’ or liberation from the cycle of life and death. It is also believed that they bring blessings from our ancestors and relieve us from their suffering. In addition, it helps us to connect with our lineage and recognise our roots.
The most important part of Pitru Paksha is the ‘tarpan’ (offering) that is made in the memory of our ancestors. The tarpan includes traditional items such as water, milk, yoghurt, clarified butter, honey, sesame seeds, grains, fruits and flowers. On each day of Pitru Paksha, offerings are made at the holy river or seashore with mantras chanted in honour of the deceased. The day begins with offering water to the sun god and praying for a peaceful afterlife for loved ones who have passed away.
Pitru Puja is also an important ritual practised during Pitru Paksha. It involves invoking our ancestors through sacred mantras and prayers. A few drops of water are poured into a pot as a sign of respect while offering food, clothes and other material possessions to them. On some days, people also take part in special religious ceremonies dedicated to their ancestors such as ‘Gaya Shraddha’ or ‘Udakalika Shraddha’. It is believed that these rituals ensure a peaceful afterlife for our ancestors while offering them spiritual solace.
Apart from these traditional practices, many people also participate in charitable activities such as providing food and clothing to the needy during this period. This is believed to bring blessings from our ancestors and increase divine grace in our lives. Finally, Pitru Paksha comes to an end on Amavasya or New Moon Day when people perform a special ceremony called ‘Vrat Parana’ which involves breaking a fast that was kept throughout Pitru Paksha.
No matter which part of the world you live in, Pitru Paksha is an important event that helps us connect with our roots and honour our ancestors in a meaningful way. Whether you observe all the rituals or just offer your prayers to their souls, it is important to keep this tradition alive for many generations to come. So make sure that you mark your calendar for Pitru Paksha 2023 and pay your respects to your departed loved ones by participating in this sacred ceremony.