The dark fortnight of Ashvin (September-October) is known as Pitr Paksha, Pitru Paksha or Mahalaya Paksha. This is an occasion to perform rites for the departed ancestors to keep their souls indebted for years. Pitr Paksha is performed for the departed immediate relatives usually up to 3 preceding generations. Pitr Paksha is performed from the 1st day / tithi of the Ashwin month and goes up to the following New Moon (Amavasya) day. Each of these 15 days is dedicated to the Shradh of those ancestors who had met eternity on that particular day / tithi. Pitr paksha is the occasion to repay debt to our departed ancestors by satisfying their souls by performing rites. For this purpose “Shradh” is performed with a belief that our dead ones’ souls are alive amongst us. Yamaraja, the Lord of death allows the souls to come down to the earth and receive offers from their descendants. This practice is made to the dead “pitris”. The last day of this period, the new moon day, is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites.
Pitru Paksha 2013 Dates
19 September (Thursday) Purnima Shraddha
This is the auspicious time to perform either kutup muhurat and rohina etc. Muhurat after that till Aparahana kaal gets over and at the end Tarpan is done.
20 September (Friday) Pratipada Shraddha
Pratipada Shraddha Tithi is also a suitable to perform Shraddha for maternal grandfather and grandmother. ). If there is no person to perform Shraddha at maternal home or death anniversary not known then doing Shraddha on this Tithi appeases souls of maternal grandparents. It is said that performing this shraddha brings happiness and prosperity.
21 September (Saturday) Dwitiya Shraddha , Tritiya Shraddha
This form of Shraddha is done for those deceased family who died on dwitiya tithi or Trithiya tithi.
22 September (Sunday) Chaturthi Shraddha
Deceased family members who died on chaturthi tithi, for those chaturthi shraddha is performed
23 September (Monday) Maha Bharani
Bharani Shraddha is equivalent to those of Gaya Shraddha. This form of shraddha is performed after death of the person but according to dharmasindhu it can also be done every year.
24 September (Tuesday) Panchami Shraddha
This shraddha is done for those deceased family member who died unmarried.
25 September (Wednesday) Shashthi Shraddha
26 September (Thursday) Saptami Shraddha
27 September (Friday) Ashtami Shraddha
28 September (Saturday) Navami Shraddha
This Shraddha is suitable to perform mother’s shraddha and it is said that doing shraddha on this day appeases all deceased female members in the family.
29 September (Sunday) Dashami Shraddha
30 September (Monday) Ekadashi Shraddha
01 October (Tuesday) Magha Shraddha, Dwadashi Shraddha
This is the tithi suitable to perform Shraddha for those who had taken renunciation before death.
02 October (Wednesday) Trayodashi Shraddha
This tithi is most suitable to perform shraddha for dead children.
03 October (Thursday) Chaturdashi Shraddha
This tithi is suitable for those deceased family members who were killed by some weapon, died in accident, committed suicide or murdered. Otherwise Chaturdashi Shraddha is not done on this Tithi and is performed on Amavasya Shraddha Tithi.
04 October (Friday) Sarva Pitru Amavasya
If death anniversary is not known or forgotten then those shraddha is performed on this tithi. If someone not able to perform shraddha on all tithis single shraddha on this day is enough to appease all deceased souls in the family.
Do’s and Don’ts
According to the Hindu religion, Pitr Paksha is very important and auspicious. During this period, there are certain non-indulgences that should be followed keeping in mind the sanctity of the ritual. Although many people today, are not able to follow them or don’t believe in them, yet, they should be followed till whatever extent it’s possible.
These austerities are:
To refrain from Non-vegetarian food. Abstain from the consumption of onion, garlic, junk food. If possible one should avoid shaving and haircuts during this time. Although, it is obligatory to perform the rite of “Shradh” on the Tithi of the death, but, if for whatever reason it couldn’t be done, at least food should be distributed to poor according to the time of convenience. Doing recitals like Garuda Puraanam (depicting passage of a soul), Nachiketa story from Upanishads (where Yama Gita is there – it contains Lord Yama’s elucidation of the journey of a soul which was first revealed to the devoted Nachiketaa), and Ganga Avatarana chapter from Shrimad Vaalmiiki Ramayan. These recitals are stated to grant satisfaction of Pitrs and thereby ensure their blessings upon us.
Mahabharata, Karn ( the son of Kunti-Surya and supposedly brother-like to Pandavas) who is fondly remembered as “Daanveer Karn” made lots of charity in form of jewels, money and lands. When he died and ascended to heaven, he got all that he gave in form of charity in multiples. But, he didn’t get food as he did not give food-charity. He starved for days and finally asked the “Yamaraj” if he could get a chance to make for this deficiency. Yamaraj allowed him and granted a period of 14 days to go back to the earth and make for it. These 14 days were used by Karan to give numerous food-charities and he also offered Shradh to his ancestors. When he finally returned back to the heaven, there was plenty of food available to him. Thus, in Hindus, it is considered very auspicious to donate food in form of Shradh to poor, as whatever donated is supposed to reach directly to one’s ancestors. During these days and especially on the day of new moon it is believed that the soul of the dead ones (Atmas), are permitted by Yamaraj to reach earth and receive the benefits of these rites from their children. According to Lord Krishna “The soul never dies”, it only transforms from one external form (body) to another. Thus it is believed that in whatever form our ancestors exist, the charity during this time surely reaches them. The sons performing the rites of Pitru Paksha are free of any Pitr dosh and are eligible for Pitr lok. It lasts for a fortnight and the day to perform the rituals depend on the Tithi, calculated according to the Hindu calendar.