Shradh, called Pitru Paksha, is a 16-day period in September when Hindus remember their ancestors by offering prayers and food. It is believed that certain rituals performed during shradh appease the souls of the ancestors and bring happiness and prosperity at home. It is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. The shradh period will begin from September 13 and continue till September 28. The first day of the shradh is called Purnima Shradha and the last day of Pitru Paksha is known as Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya. Mahalaya amavasya is the most significant day of pitru paksha.
Why is Shradh performed?
According to Garuda Purana, after 13 days of the death, the soul starts its journey for Yamapuri and takes 17 days to reach there. The soul travels through Yamapuri for another eleven months and only in twelfth month it reaches the court of Yamaraj. During the period of 11 months it has no access to the food and the water. It is believed that Pindadan and Tarpan is done by the family members satisfy the hunger and the thirst of the soul during its journey till it reaches the court of the Yamaraj. Hence Shraddha rituals are considered very important during first year of the death.
The 16 days of Shradh are as follows:
Purnima Shradh - September 13
Pratipada Shradh - September 14
Dwitiya Shradh - September 15
Tritiya Tithi Shradh - September 16
Bharani Nakshatra Shradh - September 17
Bharani Nakshatra Shradh - September 18
Panchami Tithi Shradh - September 19
Shashthi Tithi Shradh - September 20
Saptami Tithi Shradh - September 21
Ashtami Tithi Shradh - September 22
Navami Tithi Shradh - September 23
Dashami Tithi Shradh - September 24
Ekadashi Tithi Shradh - September 25
Magha Nakshatra Shradh - September 26
Chaturdashi Tithi Shradh - September 27
Amavasya Tithi Shradh - September 28
Pitru Paksha Shradh are Parvan Shradh and auspicious time to perform them is either Kutup Muhurat or Rohina Muhurut. Muhurat elongates till Aparahna Kala gets over. Tarpan is done at the end of the Shraddha.
Here's a look at Shradh Muhurat timings:
Per drikpanchang.com, the Muhurat is as follows:
Kutup Muhurat: 11:52 am to 12:41 pm
Duration 49 minutes
Rohina Muhurat - 12:41 pm to 01:30 pm
Duration - 49 minutes
Aparahna Kaal - 01:30 pm to 03:57 pm
Duration - 2 Hours 27 minutes
Rituals of Shradh
In practice, the karta or the person who performs the shradh invites priests at home, performs a havan, and offers rice to the departed souls "pinda pradaana", offered to the ancestral spirits. The karta washes the priests' feet, serves them with food, treat them with best hospitality, and concludes the ceremony by giving "dakshina" or donation. Since cows are also considered like ancestors in Hinduism, food is also offered to them.
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