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India 19 September 2016: Shraadh, originally a Sanskrit word, is a combination of two words ‘Sat’ meaning truth and ‘Adhar’ meaning basis. So it means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith. It is a ritual that Hindus perform to pay homage to their ancestors (pitrs) especially to one’s dead parents. It is a way for people to express their heartfelt gratitude and thankfulness towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. As per Garuda Purana, after thirteen days of death, the soul starts its journey for Yamapuri for another eleven months and only in the twelfth month it reaches to the court of Yamraj. During the period it has no access to food and water. It is believed that Pind Daan and Tarpan done by the son and family members satisfy this hunger and thirst of the soul during its journey till it reaches the court of Yamraj. Hence Shraadh rituals are considered very important during the first year of death.

Every year in the month of Ashwin (Hindu month) Krishana Paksh, that is 15 days commencing from Purnima (full moon night) to Amavasya, Shraadh is performed. One has to perform certain rituals this day like preparing pure vegetarian food, one can also prepare the favourite food of the departed soul. This food is offered to the Brahmins or pundits and is known as Brahmin Bhoj. Prayers should be offered for the peace of soul of our ancestors.  The food should also be offered to cows, dogs and crows. One can also indulge in serving the needy like beggars and old people for the peace of the ancestors’ souls. The ritual is performed on the death anniversary of the departed member of the family or a particular day from Shraadh during Pitr Paksh which is dedicated to that departed member. It is believed that if the rituals are performed with full faith, love and respect, our ancestors get happy and protect us from all the evil powers of the universe. They don’t let anything harm us, be it natural or supernatural.

Ritual of Tarpan or Pind Daan is considered very important in cases of unnatural deaths, as these rituals help in removing the effects of unnatural death and attaining divine peace for the departed soul.

According to Mahabharata, when Karna died, his soul was sent to heaven. There he was offered only gold and silver ornaments in food. He asked king Indra ,the reason for serving him ornaments in food and not edibles. Lord Indra told him that he had only donated gold and silver ornaments to the needy but never donated food to his ancestors. Indra gave him a 15 day period to go back to earth and donate food and other offerings in the name of his ancestors. Post this, Karna came back and performed the rituals of Shraadh or Tarpan for the peace of his ancestors’ souls.

Pitr Paksh or Shraadh is considered as an inauspicious period for starting of any new venture and shopping of new clothes or any household items. Every year, as per the Hindu calendar, the days of performing Shraadh fall on different dates. The last day of Pitra Pakash is known as Pitr Amavasya Shraadh which can be used to perform the Shraadh of anyone.

There are certain things which can be avoided while one is performing Shraadh:
1) Do not use non-vegetarian items for preparing food.
2) Do not consume alcohol while performing the rituals.
3) Never use iron vessels for preparing or serving food
4) Do not perform rituals at dusk or dawn or even after nightfall.

This article has been written by a renowned Vastu Consultant Ms. Ridhi Bahl