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Pitri Paksha...

 

The dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Ashwin corresponding to September-October is called Pitri Paksha. During this time Hindus offer black sesame seeds in water called Tillanjali in the name of their departed ancestors. Paarnava Sradha is performed on the lunar day on which their Pitri departed from the physical body. According to the Dharma Shastras we owe three principal debts; debts to the Devatas, debts to the Rishis and debts to the Pitras. The debt to the Pitras is the greatest of these three, the reason being that your Pitras were your visible Gods.

Parents made tremendous sacrifices for their children's welfare suffered financial, physical and mental strains to look after the welfare of their children. Hence, they are most worthy to be repaid by their offspring. The debts to the Pitris are paid through the performance of Sradhas. The meaning of Sradha is an act of devotion or that which is given in devotion to the Brahmanas in honour of the manes and is a term synonymous with paying our debts to our ancestors. Karam Kanda texts recommends that as Hindus we should perform Pinda -Daan and give charity to learned Brahmanas and also feed them. Pinda-Daan at midday is exceedingly beneficial to the Pitras because it makes them remain happy throughout the year and bless their offspring with happiness.

Greatness of Sradha and who should perform...

 

The Dharam Shastras state that whosoever perform Sradha during Pitri Paksha live a long and healthy life, begets sons, fame, wealth and attain the heavenly regions in the hereafter. Through the grace of their ancestors they shall be prosperous and happy in all phases of life. During the month of Ashwin in Pitri Paksh the ancestors keep hoping that their offspring will perform Pinda-Daan and offer tillanjali to please them. With this hope they leave the abode of the Pitras and come to earth. However, when they do not get tillanjali or Pinda they return disappointed to their abode. All faithful Hindus during Pitri Paksh should offer water and Pinda to their ancestors. They should also give Daan or charity according to their means. The Shastras also declares that those who do not perform Sradha for their ancestors will not get heroic and healthy sons with long life.

The eldest son is the first choice in performing Sradha if there is no son then, the daughter's son is recommended. If there are many sons, the eldest should perform the rites. If the sons are living at different addresses then only one should perform the rite. In the absence of a son the grandson or great-grandson can also perform the rite. A brother's son, a wife or husband can perform the rite if there is no son. The husband should not perform Sradha for his wife if their son is alive. If however, there are no children then an appropriate family member who is eligible can perform the Sradha or even an adopted son can do same. In the absence of all the above, a Shishya or a student of spirituality can perform the Sradha. Above all the family priest can perform the Sradha in the absence of all the above. Sradha can be performed and tillanjali can be offered for father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother both paternal and maternal also maternal and paternal uncles, fathers-in-law, mothers-in-law brothers and sisters.