Pitr Paksha 2016
Pitr (ancestors) Paksha (phase of the moon) or simply "The auspicious period for remembering those who have passed on" is very important and
significant in the Hindu culture. The Sanskrit word Pitr embraces God in all His aspects, the earliest sages, and our immediate ancestors to the
third generation, and all our departed friends and relatives.
This year Pitru Paksh starts on 16th September 2016 @ 21h04
Offer 1st water oblations (Tarpana) to be offered after sunrise on the morning of the 17th after sunrise.
Pitr Paksh Ends on 1st October 2016 @ 02h09
Last water oblations to be offered after sunrise on the 30th September 2016, Pitr Paksha officially ends on 1st October 2016 @ 02h09.
Also note that it is not permissible to offer water oblations (Tarpana) in the evening or night, it must only be offered during daylight hours
as Shree Yamarajj releases our ancestors at sunrise and they must return to PitrLoka (the ancestor world) at sunset.
In writing this article we hope to enlighten people from all cultures as to why we honour this very auspicious period of 15 days which comes
in the dark half phase of the month of Ashwini (September/October), set aside as a Memorial and thanksgiving to the departed souls, who, when on
this Earth, made some contribution to make it a better place. We acknowledge our indebtedness to our ancestors in this period. It's an observance
accompanied by intense bhakti (devotion) to the Supreme Lord.
All religions, sects, even tribes follow different observances when a member of the family passes on. The rites are based on certain beliefs and
convictions enshrined in religion. One of the cornerstones of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is the belief in the eternity of the Atma (Soul). The Atma
leaves the body at death but life does not end there but continues after death as Lord Krishna says in Bhagavata Gita 2.20 "For the soul there is
neither birth nor death at any time. The soul is unborn, eternal, ever existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."
The final rites after death are called Antyesthi, during which the body is cremated or buried depending on the age of the deceased. The ceremonies
performed after the 10th, 12th/13th day followed by the 6th, 12th month, and yearly ceremonies are all called Shraddha. The annual Shraddha performed
during Pitr Paksh falls into the same category of rituals.
During this period of Pitra Paksha, devotees purify themselves in all aspects, internally and
externally. Strict discipline, including a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol and sex is observed.
All one’s activities are supposed to be Sathwik (in the mode of goodness). Mental purification is also
required and devotees therefore control their thoughts, focussing on that which is good and divine.
Prayer, chanting the Holy names of The Lord, engaging in Sathsangh, reading of scriptures and giving
charity are meant to enhance this purification. Similar purification is also required during other
observances like Ram Naumee, Krishna Astami, Ganesh Chaturti and Diwali.
One of the key beliefs of Hinduism is that the soul is real and eternal while
the body is impermanent. We should therefore engage in activities that elevate the soul. Further,
Karma and Reincarnation are important principles of Hinduism. Based on the reality and eternity of
the soul and considering the principle of reincarnation, it becomes clear that it is both necessary
and obligatory on all Hindus, but especially on householders to acknowledge indebtedness to their
ancestors, no matter where they may be and irrespective of their physical form. Change of location
and of form does not free us from our indebtedness. The followers of Sanathan Dharma express
their gratitude and devotion to the Pitras by oblations of water. This spiritual activity of oblations of
water is referred to as TARPAN. The word Tarpan is related to the Sanskrit word Trpti, which means
satiation or satisfaction. Tarpan is a process of gratifying your ancestors.
How to offer food to your ancestors
Food prepared MUST FIRST be offered to Lord Krsna/Raam/Vishnu then that offered food becomes sanctified food (Prashad) and only then must that prashad be offered to the ancestors.
By performing it in this way the ancestors bless that family immensely since they are eating Krsna/Raam/Vishnu prashad, which relieves them very quickly, from whatever bad situation they are in.
The prashad must be offered in the daylight hours as Shree Yamarajj releases our ancestors at sunrise and they must return to PitrLoka (the ancestor world) at sunset.
On a tray place a banana leaf. On the banana leaf place a tablespoon of all the food that was cooked.
Go to your prayer place and offer the food first to God (Lord Krishna/Raam/Vishnu).
Leave the food at the prayer place for about 10 minutes.
Thereafter take a little of each of the food and put back into the pot. The food in the pot is now Krishna/Raam/ Vishnu prashad.
Now take the tray with the food and go to a corner of your yard facing South in a clean place offer the food together with a small cup of water or milk.Say “ all my ancestors please partake in this prashad”. Then leave that food.
One should do this for 15 days. On the last day you can either perform a havan or donate charity (whichever suits you and can afford – like 3 three types of grains, fruits, vegetables…) to your family priest or a poor person.
More articles on Pitr Paksha
What is Tarpana?
Offering of Food in Fire
Listen to a Talk on Pitr Paksh by Pundith Rishipaul Maharaj