The time period of Pitru Paksha or Shraadh is a 16-day long affair. This year the period of Shraadh commenced from September 16 and will last until 30th of this month. During this period, a lot of many rituals are followed. It is believed that by offering food, water and performing Tarpan—our dead ancestors' soul attains peace, thereby showering the family members with their blessings.
Just as our land is a diverse mix of cultures and traditions, we find many beliefs and practices making their way into our daily mundane lives. Today let's take a look at some of the more popular beliefs related to the rituals performed during the Pitru Paksha.
What to follow during Shraadhs:
It is said that shraadha of a particular ancestor or relative from the family is performed on a specific lunar day during the Pitru Paksha—usually the same day when that person left for heavenly abode. However, exceptions are made in the case of those individuals who die in a particular manner.
Chautha Bharani and Bharani Panchami, the fourth and fifth lunar day respectively, are allocated for those who are deceased in the past year. Avidhava Navami (Unwidowed ninth), the ninth lunar day, is for married women who died before their husband.
While widowers invite Brahmin women as guests for their wife's shraadha. The twelfth lunar day is for children and ascetics. And the fourteenth day is known as Ghata Chaturdashi or Ghayala Chaturdashi, which is reserved for those killed by arms, in war or suffered a violent death.
Sarvapitri Amavasya (all ancestors' new moon day) is allocated for all the ancestors, irrespective of the lunar day they died.
Most importantly, those who forgot to perform Shraadh by any reason can do so on this day.
Matamaha or Dauhitra also marks the first day of the month of Ashvin and is assigned for the grandson of the deceased maternal grandfather. It is said that the ritual is also held on the death anniversary of the ancestor. The Shraadh ceremony is performed only at noon, essentially on the banks of a river or lake or at one's own house.
It is seen that usually families set out on a pilgrimage to divine and holy places such as Varanasi and Gaya for the Shraadh ceremony.
The food that is offered to the ancestors while Shraadh has to be cooked in either silver or copper utensils. Also, it is placed on a banana leaf or dried leaves. The food generally includes Kheer, Lapsi, rice, dal, spring bean (guar) and a pumpkin.