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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pitru Paksha



Pitru Paksha,the "fortnight of the ancestors ",This is a 16–lunar day period when Hindus pay homage,via food offerings.to their ancestors.Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus an inauspicious period,which is also known as Shraadh or tarpan.
In western and southern India, it falls in the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September - October),starting from the full moon day (Poornima),falling immediately after the Ganesh festival and ending with the new moon day known as 'Sarvapitri amavasya' or 'Mahalaya amavasya'. In North India and Nepal,this period corresponds to the dark fortnight of the month Ashwin.
LEGEND
According to Hindu mythology, the souls of three preceding generations of one's ancestor reside in Pitru–loka, a realm between heaven and earth. 
This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru–loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shraddha offerings are not given.
Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shraddha rites, in which Yama plays a significant role.
According to the sacred Hindu epics (Itihasa), at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Virgo (Kanya). 
Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants' homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac—Scorpio (Vrichchhika)—and there is a full moon. 
Hindus are expected to propitiate the ancestors in the first half, during the dark fortnight.

When the legendary donor Karna died in the epic Mahabharata war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food.
However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food. 
Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. 
Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory.
To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 16–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. 
This period is now known as Pitru Paksha. In some legends, Yama replaces Indra.
The fifteen days of Malaya Paksha consists of 15 Tithi (also called Thithi). They are Pratipat, Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadasi, Dvadasi, Trayodasi, Chaturdashi, Amavasya (new moon). 
According to Hindu mythology, every individual's who wants to perform this Pitru Tharpanam, they should do it on the same day of their ancestor died which will fall within any one of these fifteen days.

The performance of Shraddha by a son during Pitru Paksha is regarded as a compulsory by Hindus, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven. In this context, the scripture Garuda Purana says, "there is no salvation for a man without a son". The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), ghosts (bhutas) and guests. The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer.
The performance of Sarvapitri amavasya rites can also compensate a forgotten or neglected annual shraddha ceremony, which should ideally coincide with the death anniversary of the deceased.


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