Shraddh or Shradh offered during Pitru Paksh (dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha) in the month of Ashwin (September – October) is of great importance in Hindu religion. Shraddh is the ceremonies and rituals performed for the departed souls of dead ancestors. It is believed that the souls will attain peace by the Shraddh rituals performed during the fortnight. the Shraddh Pitru Paksh begins on next day to Punaam and ends with Mahalaya Pitru Paksha . (Pitru Paksha fortnight).
According to Hindu mythology, the Shraddh performed on Ashwin Pitru Paksha reaches the ancestors immediately and their souls will rest in peace. Hindu Puranas are full of details about Shraddh, especially Agni Purana, Garuda Purana and Matysa Purana. It is Yama, the god of death in Hindu mythology, who explained the importance of Shraddh performed on Pitru Paksha.
According to Matysa Pura, Agni, Vasus and Rudras act as intermediaries during Pitru Paksha Shraddh and take the rituals and food offered to ancestors. The ancestors bless those performing the ritual. In some places, the last day of the Shraddh is of great importance. The ritual is usually conducted near temples or on river banks.
The Shraddh or rituals performed during this period benefits all the dead ancestors. It is believed by Hindus that all the sinful acts committed by the dead will be cleansed by the shraddh. Those departed souls who do not receive Shraddh are said to wander aimlessly on Earth.
Pitru Paksha Shraddh is also offered by people to ancestors whose death dates they have forgotten. To relatives who had no children and who met with violent death like accidents or murder. Those people who failed to perform the annual shraddh (performed on the death date) also offer Shraddh during Pitru Paksha.
The customs and rituals performed during Pitru Paksha Shraddh vary regionally. Some people fast on the day. Some people observe specific customs like abstaining from non-<span>vegetarian food</span> during the fortnight and some do not cut their hair or shave.
The rituals are usually performed under the guidance of a learned person or priest.
According to shastra’s “Shradya pitran udishya vidhina kriyate yatkarm tat shradham” wondering what it means, it means “what ever acts or deeds that you perform with devotion for your near and dear ones who have died is called the shradha.” The essence of offerings made in the shradha should be start with devotion for the act of shradha. Without the presence of devotion all other offerings and prayers made in the process is remains just an act of completing the task of performing the yajna.
According to the great priest Parashar “Shradha is the process of performing the prayers with the help of materials like Black sesame (kala teel), long thick dry grass (kush) and mantras at a given time in a specific country with an utensil (patra).”
For your ancestors you should be performing the act or yajnas of shradha twice once when they have died or on their death anniversary or in the months of pitripaksha which falls in the month of ashwin as per the hindi calendar which is the period just before Navratri and generally falls in September. The date on which your ancestors had died and if you happen to perform the shradha on the same day it is called the ekodisht shrdha. The name suggests the performing of yajnas for the salvation of the soul for the same person who died on that given day. The rituals suggests you to donate a pind (a pind is a round ball made of a mixture of wheat and rice flour with some sesame seeds mixed along with some milk and honey.) on the given day and also offer food to a hindu priest (Brahman).
The other kind of shradha is performed in the month of Ashwin during the Krishna paksha phase on the same date on which the ancestor had died. This form of shradha is called the pawarn shradha. According to rituals mentioned in the shradha you should be offering food to nine Brahman’s but even if you offer food to even one of them with utmost devotion will be good as performing your rituals.
Below is the process to perform Shradh for your ancestors:1. Dress yourself in a white plain cloth and remember your ancestors who have died.2. Sit down facing the east.3. Start the prayer by holding the trikush, black sesame and water in your hand and pronounce the following mantras:
Sankalp – ” Om Vishnu Vishnu Vishnu namah partmatmane purshotamaye om tatsat adhaytasya vishnorogya jagatsrishti karmani prabartmanasye brahmanohin dwitiye paradhre sri swetwarah kalpe vaivast manwantare ashtawishanti tame kaliyuge kali pratham charne jambudeepey bharatkhande bharat varshey aryavartrantgartayk deshey ( say -The name of the state and city ) jilantgartey (say – The name of your town or village or the name of your colony) Namin chetrey (Say – the closet hindu piligrimage place) Namin tirthsthal samipey bodhawatare vikram samwat2066, subhkrit naam samwatsarey surya dakshinayaney, sharad ritu aswin masey Krishnapakshey (you would have state the date on which you are performing the yajnas) thitho (you state the day on which it is being performed) washrey singh/kanya rashi sthith suryey makar rashi sthithey devgurow sheshesu grihashu yatha-yatha rashi sthan sthiteysu satsu aaewam grahgungan visheshan vishishtayaan subh pun thitho ( state your gotra here) gotrotpanosah (state your full name now) ah ashmat pitrepitamah pratitamhanam sapatnikanam tataambatritaymityadi shastrabidhitwashisht sambandhi bandhwanam yey chasmatoh abhiwankchantih tesha cha chutpipasha nibriti purwakam chaytripti sampadnarth Brahman bhojnatmakam sankalpik shradham tatha panchbali karmam cha karishyeh.”
There after the water that you were holding in your hand should be left on the ground.
Before you treat the Brahman with food and you should ask the pandit to perform the panchbali constituing of (gobali, shwanbali, kakbali, dewadibali and pipilika bali).
Take five different kind of food item on five different utensil or leaf and thereafter pick each of these utensil/leaf along with the food in it and perform the yanjanas for kramasah, gobali, swanbali, devadibali and pipilika bali.
1.Gobalih Gobali is taken out in a utensil or leaf and while you are doing so you need to use the following mantra:
Showrmeyyaah sarwahita pavitra punyarashyah.Pratigriantu may grasham gaawshtreylokaymatrah.Edey gobhayao na mamah
2. Shwanbali It has to performed the same way by using the following mantras below:
Dwoh shrawanoh shyamshbalow baiwastawkulodawbhawoh.Tabhyamanam prayakchami shayaatametawhinsakow.Edey sharbhyam na mamah
3. KakabaliKakabali is taken out on the ground by using the following mantras below:
Aeyndrawarun baybyaham yamyah baey neytrastastatha.Bayesah pratigrihantoh bhumoh pindah.
4. DevbaliThis bali is taken out in a utensil or leaf and while you are doing so you need to use the following mantra:
Deva manushyaha pashwoh byamshi shidha shaychorgadaytashangha.Pretah pishachastwaa samasta yeh chananbhiichchanti maya pradtam.Idmanah devadibhayo na mamah
5. PipilikaThis bali is taken out in a utensil or leaf and while you are doing so you need to use the following mantra:
Pipilikah kitpataskandha bubhuchitah karmnibandhbadha.Tesha he triptayarthmindham mayananm tebhayo weshrishtham sikinoh bhawantu.Idmanah Pipilikahdebhayo na mamah.
Once you have performed the panchbali as per the rituals the food can be either offered to fire or should be given to either of these animals like cow, dog crow or insect (ants).
Now you have to treat the Brahman. Either donate food or treat the Brahman with food. The food should have the following ingredients:1. Grains 2. Ghee 3. Sugar and4. Salt
Once the Brahman has been treated with food you should donate tambul and other materials and after doing so consider this Brahman to be your ancestor god and move around him for four times (parikrama). Once you have done so and the Brahman feels very satisfied you can take leave of the Brahman. And now you can have food.
The result of shradha would depend on your devotion of performing the shradha. According to shastras if somebody is extremely poor and he cannot do anything then just feeding a cow in the name of your ancestors would be equivalent to performing the shradha. If you cannot even do that just raise your hands in the air and tell your ancestor Gods that you have no material possessions to perform shradha for their soul and all you have is the devotion for them and you can say you can accept my devotion as an offering and offer your blessings.