Pitru Paksha (Hindi: पितृ पक्ष / महालय श्राद्घ पक्ष, Tamil: மகாளய பட்சம் ஆரம்பம், Telugu: మహాలయ పక్ష ప్రారంభం, Gujarati: મહાલય શ્રાદ્ધ પ્રારંભ) also called Mahalaya Paksha is the ‘fortnight of the ancestors', a tradition observed by the Hindus to pay homage to their ‘pitrs’ or ancestors. It extends for a period of 16 days during Krishna paksha ie., between Purnima (full moon day) and amavasya, during the month of Ashvin or Bhadrapada based on the Hindu calendar followed.

Pitru paksha 2020 starts on September 02, Wednesday

1 month and 24 days to go for the event
Purnima Shraddha is on September 13. Pitru Paksha fortnight ends on pitra moksha amavasya which falls on September 17, 2020 Thursday

Image Source: IANS

Shraddha is performed to appease the souls of deceased ancestors

On the Gujarati and Telugu calendars this ritual falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. On the Purnimanta calendar, Pitru Paksha is observed from Ashwin Krishna pratipada to Ashwin amavasya. This usually comes during the month of September-October on the English calendar.

Pitru Paksha begins after the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and the last day is the most significant one and is popularly known as ‘Mahalaya Amavasya’, ‘Pitru Amavasya’, ‘Sarvapitri Amavasya’, ‘Peddala Amavasya’ or just ‘Mahalaya’.

The period of Pitru Paksha is believed to be inauspicious by the Hindus due to the death rites performed in the rituals. This ceremony is known as ‘tarpan’ or ‘Shraddha’. The Shraddha is performed for three generation of ‘Pitrs’. During this time the Hindus offer food and prayers to the ancestors. This practice is done to remove any ‘pitru dosh’ to ensure that the family stays blessed. The rituals during the Pitru Paksha are performed only by the male members in the family. Moreover the Pitru Paksha rituals vary from region to region.

Image Source: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS

People perform 'tarpan'

Guidelines for Pitru Paksha:

  • The rituals of the Shraddha or tarpan are performed by a male member, generally the eldest son in the family. On the day, the observer of Pitru Paksha takes a bath a bath and wears a dhoti and ring made from Kush grass. As per the Hindu scriptures, the Kush grass is symbolic of compassion and used as a means to invoke the ancestors.
  • Pind daan, the tradition of offering sesame seeds, rice and balls made of barley flour is observed after this. The rituals of the Pitru Paksha are performed under the guidance of a knowledgeable priest. Following this, the blessings of Lord Vishnu are invoked using another sacred grass called as ‘darbha grass’. This form of grass is known for its unobstructed growth and therefore it is believed that the use of the Darbha grass will eliminate obstacles in one’s life.
  • On the chosen day of Pitru Paksha, food is especially prepared for offering to the ancestors. It is a practice of offering a part of this food to crow, as a crow is considered to be a messenger of Lord Yama. If the crow eats the food, it is believed to be an auspicious sign. Following this, a Brahmin priest is made to eat food and given a ‘dakshina’ for performing the ceremony. After completing all these rituals the members of the family sit together and have their meal.
  • During Pitru Paksha, reading sacred Hindu scriptures like ‘Agni Purana’, ‘Garuda Purana’, and different stories of Ganga Avataram and Nachiketa is greatly recommended.

Important Timings On Pitrupaksha

SunriseSeptember 02, 2020 6:13 AM
SunsetSeptember 02, 2020 6:39 PM
Aparahna Kaal September 02, 1:41 PM - September 02, 4:10 PM
Kutup Muhurat September 02, 12:01 PM - September 02, 12:51 PM
Rohina Muhurat September 02, 12:51 PM - September 02, 1:41 PM
Place : Ujjain [ India ] See More

Significance of Pitru Paksha:

Pitru Paksha also known as ‘Pitri Pokkho’, ‘Apara Paksha’, ‘Peddala Amavasya’, ‘Jitiya’ or ‘Sola Shraddha’ is a compulsory ceremony observed by Hindus. It is believed that by performing the rites of Shraddha, the soul of their ancestors goes to heaven. All the rituals during Pitru Paksha are performed by the son as it written in ‘Garuda Purana’ that a man can get salvation only after having a son. As per the Hindu mythology it is believed that the departed souls of the ancestors rest in peace only after the completion of the Shraddha ceremonies. Various Hindu scriptures like ‘Markandeya Purana’ state that when the ancestors are contended with the tarpan, they bestow the performer of the rituals with wealth, knowledge and a good healthy life.

Image Source: Prokerala.com

Things to be avoided during the period of Pitru Paksha:

  • The time for Pitru Paksha is considered inappropriate for any new beginnings. Therefore starting a new activity or venture is prohibited during this period.
  • People even abstain from buying or wearing during new clothes. During Pitru Paksha washing and cutting hair or shaving is also prohibited, more so on the last day, that is, Mahalaya Amavasya. Also consuming onion, garlic or non-vegetarian food is strictly not allowed.
  • As per the astronomical calculations, auspicious events like marriage, child naming ceremony or entering a new home should be done in advance or postponed so that it does not fall during Pitru Paksha.
Image Source: IANS

People offering water to the soul of their deceased ancestors on the occasion of Sarva Pitri Amavasya

Pitrupaksha festival dates between 2017 & 2027

YearDate
2017Wednesday, 6th of September
2018Tuesday, 25th of September
2019Saturday, 14th of September
2020Wednesday, 2nd of September
2021Tuesday, 21st of September
2022Saturday, 10th of September
2023Friday, 29th of September
2024Wednesday, 18th of September
2025Monday, 8th of September
2026Sunday, 27th of September
2027Thursday, 16th of September

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