Monthly Archives: September 2018

Pitra Paksh -Remembering Ancestors

Every year a fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin is observed in the fond memory of our ancestors. This period is referred as Shraddha or Pitra Paksha. The Shraddha – is derived from Shraddha which means faith. Hence the faith in one’s ancestors’ makes the mortals observe some customary rituals year on year with reverence and faith in their memories when the ancestors are no more alive.

The story goes that The King Karna the famous warrior of Mahabharata was granted heaven after the war. Karna was famous for his charity throughout his life and earned a sobriquet of Dhan Veer – The one who gives away everything in charity. So much so that during the war of Kurushetra he gave away his protective shield when Lord Indra disguised as seeker asked for the same. However, in heaven Karna was offered precious Gems, Gold and other items instead of food and water. Puzzled by this treatment Karna asked the gods about this. On this Lord Indra told him that he had been giving only gold and gems as a charity but had never given food and water to the poor or deserving people hence he was given same treatment in heaven. Karna requested gods to give him a chance to correct his anomalies and the same was granted to him and he was asked to go back to earth for some days to feed poor so as to get rid of the problem. Hence, this period of the year is observed in giving food, water and clothing to poor and also performing rituals associated with it.

The ritual of shradha is done as it is believed that ceremony shall enable forefathers to ascend higher plane of existence. Besides relieving the ancestors from traps of unfulfilled wishes. We owe our existence from our ancestors and forefathers. Therefore, this is the time when we can remember them and repay our debt.

Shradha is the only way when ancestors receive our oblations and hence get pleased. This results in peace to them and happiness in their families.
The detailed rituals of Shradha are performed by priests who follow the manual as per the scriptures and litany of ceremonies. The elder of the family keeps the fast in memory of deceased besides offering each Pind in the name of the ancestors who are no more alive.

The message of Pitru paksh as envisaged by our Rishis are :- ​

Remembering – Pitru Paksh also enables us to think that this life is transitory and one day we too would pass. Therefore, it is the time to remember our forefathers and simultaneously be good to elders in our family.
Sharing – It also cultivates a habit of giving away things like food and clothes in charity among poor destitute thus inculcating the spirit of sharing.
Good Deeds – The Shradha also makes us remember the good deeds of our ancestor’s which act as a catalyst in us to follow the footsteps and carry on the legacy of goodness shown by them.
Family Lineage – This fortnight also makes us remember all the ancestors who were in the family thus, passing their existential journey among our progeny so that they can remember the family tree and linages.
Focus on Spiritual – The rituals wean us away from the grind of day to day material world and forces us to think on the matters more spiritual than mundane in nature thus, forcing us to think about our existence and role in families, societies and nation of which we are an integral part and parcel.

According to Neelmat Puran the important places for performing Shradha are at Lake Gangabal in Kangan besides at places like Shadipur which is the confluence of river Vitista (Jhelum) and Sindhu, Martand (Mattan) in Anantnag, Kapalmochan in Shopian and shores of Vitista. Performing sharda at these given places elevates the soul journey of dead to higher planes besides granting peace and spiritual merits to the families. In Jammu the places of performing Shradha are Uttarbani in Kathua and Ghats of Chandrabhaga at Akhnoor.

The other important places across India where such detailed rituals are performed since time immemorial are at Haridwar in Uttrakhand, Varanasi & Allahabad in U.P., Gaya in Bihar, Pushker in Rajasthan, Nashik in Maharashtra, Gokarna in Karnataka, Rameshwaram in T.N.

Therefore, lets resolve in this pitra paksha that we shall share our happiness, food, clothing with those who are neglected, poor, destitute and orphans so that we embrace them a part of our society and also take a pledge that we make the life our elders in family more comfortable which they deserve and which we owe to them as their progeny.

By-Sunil Raina Rajanaka