What is Shradh & Pitru Paksha?
Shradh is the ideal time designated by the Hindu Shastras to offer Tarpan (spiritual nourishment) to the departed ancestors in a family. It is believed that the ancestors residing in the Pitru Loka ( the world of the departed souls) are permitted to visit Earth (Bhulok), during the Pitru Paksha in a year to accept the offerings given by their descendants. Therefore the offerings are necessary to ensure that they reside in peace in their after-life and attain their blessings.
Significance of Sarva Pitru Shradh
The Sarva Pitra Shradh is a shradh ritual performed on the Sarva Pitru Amavasya which is also known as the Mahalaya Amavasya (Maha means large and laya means destruction) According to the Amavasyant calendars, Sarva Pitru Amavasya is performed on the New Moon day in the month of Bhadrapada. It falls in the month of Ashwin according to Purnimant calendars. It is observed by Hindus irrespective of which community they belong to.
It is the most important day of the Pitru Paksha. Pitru Paksha is a Sanskrit word that literally stands for ‘fortnight of the ancestors’. Pitru means ancestors and Paksha means fortnight. Therefore, Pitru Paksha is a 15 lunar day period during which the Hindus pay homage to their ancestors mainly by offering food to them. The period commences with the Full Moon day or Purnima that takes place immediately after Ganesh Chaturthi and ends with the New Moon day or Amavasya known as Pitru Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya. This last day is the most important day.
Shradh 2024: Start & End Date
Shradh Pitru Paksha 2024 will begin on 17th September 2024 and will end on 2nd October 2024.
History of Sarva Pitra Shradh
As per the holy Hindu scriptures, a fierce battle took place between the Devtas (Gods) and Rakshasas (Demons) in which a large number of people from both sides were killed. This war took place from Bhadrapada Bahula Padyami to Amavasya. This period is also known as Sastra Hatha Mahalaya and the Gods and Demons who perished during the war are paid homage to.
Another ancient story relates to the Mahabharata hero, Karna. During his lifetime, the generous Karna donates all kinds of gold and silver but not the food. Thus, after his death, when he went to the higher realms, he received a lot of wealth in the form of gold and silver but no food. The distressed Karna prayed to Lord Yama, the God of Death and with His grace, he returned to the Earth during this Paksha or fortnight. He donated plenty of food to the needy on all fifteen days. On the last day, he went back to the Pitru Lok with full satisfaction and fulfillment. For this reason, Annadaana or food donation is regarded as most auspicious on these days.
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Pitru Paksha 2024: पितृ पक्ष 2024 (श्राद्ध की तिथियां)
17 सितंबर (17 September) - पूर्णिमा श्राद्ध (Purnima Shraddha)
18 सितंबर (18 September) - प्रतिपदा (Pratipada)
19 सितंबर (19 September) - द्वितीया (Dwitiya)
20 सितंबर (20 September) – तृतीया (Tritiya)
21 सितंबर (21 September) - चतुर्थी ( Chaturthi)
22 सितंबर (22 September) - पंचमी ( Panchami)
23 सितंबर (23 September) - षष्ठी (Shashti)
23 सितंबर (23 September) - सप्तमी ( Saptami)
24 सितंबर (24 September) - अष्टमी ( Ashtami)
25 सितंबर (25 September) - नवमी ( Navami)
26 सितंबर (26 September) - दशमी ( Dashami)
27 सितंबर (27 September) - एकादशी ( Ekadashi)
29 सितंबर (29 September) - द्वादशी ( Dwadashi)
30 सितंबर (30 September) - त्रयोदशी (Trayodashi)
1 अक्टूबर (1 October) - चतुर्दशी श्राद्ध ( Chaturdashi ShradhaM)
2 अक्टूबर (2 October) - सर्वपित्र अमावस्या ( Sarva pitru Amavasya)
How to Perform Sarva Pitra Shradh?
On this day, Shradh and Tarpan rituals are performed for the deceased members of the household who died on the Tithis of Chaturdashi, Purnima or Amavasya. The performance of Sarva Pitru Amavasya Shradh ritual can also compensate for any Shradh ritual which has been skipped during the year.
Shradh is considered as fruitful and sacred, especially when conducted in the holy city of Gaya, which is regarded as a special place to perform such rituals.
Generally, a Shradh is performed by the eldest son or any male relative of the paternal branch of the family limiting to the three preceding generations. However, on Sarva Pitru Amavasya, the daughter’s son can also offer Shradh for the maternal side of the family if there is no male in the mother’s family. Some people perform the Shraddh for only one generation.
According to the Hindu faith, it is widely believed that a person should repay three types of debts to attain ‘Moksha’. The three debts are Deva Rina, Rishi Rina and Pitru Rina which is a debt to God, guru, and ancestors.
It is regarded as the responsibility of the son to serve the parents when they are living as well as after their demise by performing the Pitru Paksha Shraddha to relieve the departed souls. The importance of these rites and rituals are mentioned in the Puranas namely, the Garuda Purana, Vayu Purana, Agni Purana, Matsya Purana, and Markandeya Purana.
The Benefits of the Amavasya Pitru Tarpan are as follows:
- The rituals help to gain the blessings of Lord Yama.
- The family will be protected from all ill effects and obstacles.
- It relieves the souls of the deceased ancestors.
- The children are blessed with a long and prosperous life.
- In case a person is too desolate to donate the offerings and perform the rituals, he can ask for forgiveness and promise to do the same once he is in a better position to offer.
- People even pray to the forefathers to cure the hereditary ailments which may result in the sickness and/or death in the family.
It is believed that the souls of the departed ones seek subtle spiritual nourishment and they get it when their descendants perform the Shradh ritual for them. On Shradh 2024 date, the elder boy in the family is also expected to learn and perform the rituals as they are believed to be the ones to look after the past and the future of the family.
The Mahalaya in Bengal
In Bengal, Mahalaya marks the beginning of the Durga Puja festivities. It is believed that on the day of Mahalaya, the Goddess Durga descended to Earth. Traditionally, the Bengali people wake up early in the morning on this day to recite ‘shlokas’ or verses of Devi Mahatmyam or Chandi scriptures. There are offerings made to the ancestors in homes and at puja mandaps.
Pind Daan is a mandatory puja for all Hindus and Hinduism followers. It is considered that no work can be successfully performed without the blessing of the ancestors and performing Pind Daan. The performing of Pind Daan as per the specific rituals at Gaya, Haridwar, Badrinath, Kurukshetra, Prayagraj are considered as highly auspicious.
It is believed that people who wish to express their gratitude to their lineage for having been born into this world must perform the Shradh Ritual. From an astrological point of view, those who have Pitru Dosha or Putra Dosha in their horoscopes must perform these rituals to get rid of the dosha. People who have back to back problems in life especially to do with debt, disease, and ailments are highly recommended to perform these rituals on Sarva Pitru Amavasya.
We highly recommend you to book a Pitra Dosh Puja to provide peace & contentment to your ancestors and get their auspicious blessings which are a must for living a prosperous, successful and blissful life.