How to Perform Worship, Rituals and Rules of Pitra Paksha 2023?

Pitra paksha 2023 is beginning from 29th September 2023 and will go on till 14th October 2023. In Indian mythology, pitra paksha is known as an auspicious fortnight period during which Hindu people perform special rituals for their dead ancestors. According to hindu mythology, these rituals are done for the peace of their ancestors’ soul. Also, the rites done during pitra paksha denote our respect and remembrance to the ancestors. Rituals when done properly in the correct manner bring prosperity and blessings of forefathers but when it goes wrong, there may be lack of peace, happiness and wealth in the family. So how to do things in a right manner during pitra paksha? What important things are to be taken about and what rituals should be performed by whom; Know answer of all these questions in the article –

Why to celebrate and worship in Pitra Paksha?

Pitra Paksha is actually a mourning festival for Hindu’s during which they worship and pray for the salvation of their dead ancestors. It is believed that the souls of the forefather wander around the world in search of peace and salvation. When they see their descendants performing rituals for them and offering them food, they attain peace and stage of satiety. It is also believed that every hindu family should perform essential rites of the pitra paksha to avoid anger of the soul of passed away near and dear ones as they may dislike not being remembered or paid due respect after their death.

There is a legendary also behind the celebration of pitra paksha. According to an epic, when Karna, the great benevolent and warrior was dead on the seventeenth day of the war of Mahabharata, his soul reached to heaven. There he was offered gems and jewelry as food. When he asked the reason of this treatment to Lord Indra, he replied that he had been sent to heaven for his charitable actions during his lifetime but he never offered food to his ancestors; thus he is not being offered food in another world. When Karna asked the way to rectify his errors, he was sent back to the Earth for fifteen days where he offered food to his ancestors and prayed for their salvation. After this, the period of fifteen days from Purnima Shraddha i.e. Purnima tithi of Bhadrapada Mas to pitramoksh Amavasya is celebrated as Pitra Paksha during which Shraddha Karma (the deed of offering food to ancestors) is done for salvation of ancestors.

How to perform Pooja?

The everyday worship during this auspicious fortnight is performed by the eldest son of the family. The Pooja is performed all fifteen days for the ancestors while on the particular tithi in which the ancestors died, special rituals are performed.

  • One who is performing the pooja is called Karta. On the day of Shraddha Purnima, Karta visits to the nearby holy river or lake take holy bath there and invite the souls of ancestors to bring them home for worship. After coming back, the worship is performed.
  • The Pooja includes the process of shradhdha bhoj, Tarpan and pind-daan to deceased ancestors. Karta wears a ring made up of doorva while performing Pooja and sit in a calm and peaceful place for worship. Karta has to sit in the same place everyday for performing the ritual and invoke the ancestors.
  • A sacred thread is worn by the Karta and during the pooja and the position of this thread is changed many times while doing pind-dan to in different directions.
  • Some pure water is poured in a big plate and few black sesame seeds are put in the water as a part of the ritual. Then Karta takes water from this plate in both hands and pour down slowly with prayer of salvation of the ancestors. This ritual is called pind-daan and is done repetitively changing the position in all four directions.
  • Beside the main door of the home, shape of feet with flour are made denoting the ancestors presence and water and food is offered to them in front of this feet figure only assuming the ancestors are sitting there.
  • Special and satvik food (devoid of garlic and onion) is prepared for shraddha and this food is offered to the ancestor’s soul in the form of havan (holy fire is lit and food is put in the fire in the form of morsels and special mantras). Everyday this procedure is repeated and favorite food of the ancestors is cooked on rotation basis everyday. Some part of the food is fed to cow, dogs, crows and ants.
  • On the tithi in which the ancestor deceased, the shraddha food is fed to Brahmins also and offered dakshina and blessings are taken from them.
  • On the last day of pitra paksha, the puja and rituals are performed like every day and ancestors’ soul is prayed to go back for salvation. The Karta takes them back to the holy river or lake from where they were brought with honor and prays to shower love, prosperity and happiness in the family. Also requests to the souls to stay in peace and calm and attain salvation.

Few Other Important Considerations You Can Make:

  1. During this Shraddha ceremony, it is important for you to make offerings while remembering the names of your paternal grandmother as well as all other deceased family members. However, it is essential to adhere to certain rituals and guidelines to ensure that the offerings are made correctly and respectfully.
  2. Also, it is very crucial to avoid placing anything in the freezer that is pre-kneaded or stale for greater than 15 days. As per the tradition, such items left in the freezer for an extended period of time may become offerings for restless spirits & their abode.
  3. If an individual’s horoscope indicates the presence of a progeny curse or pitridosh, it is advisable to perform a Shanti Puja. This ritual should be conducted by a reputable Vedic Brahman. At this time, one should also abstain from engaging in a physical relationship with their spouse for approximately 15 days as a sign of respect & devotion to the ancestors.
  4. Serving food in one’s house at the time of Sharadh period can be considered a Vastu dosh, as it coincides with the time of Pind Daan. In order to address this, it is suggested to arrange for Pandit ji (priest) to dine on the specific tithi in the name of the deceased ancestors, such as Purvjon. This meal should be organized either near the temple or on the bank of the river.
  5. During Terhwavi, only your Priest or Panditji is provided with food when someone has passed away. Similarly, on the anniversary of a mother’s passing, food is exclusively offered to Panditji, typically along the riverbank or in the temple. In the home, the deceased is not served food during these times.
  6. It is important to note that, traditionally, male priests conduct the rituals and ceremonies at the time of Gaya Shraddha. Therefore, the male priest is the only one who receives food or donations on behalf of the deceased ancestors.
  7. As part of your donation during this Shraddha ceremony, consider contributing black sesame seeds and barley.

By following these customs and traditions, you can ensure that the Shraddha ceremony is conducted with reverence and devotion to your ancestors.

Special tithis of pitra paksha

Ancestors who have attained natural death and left the world in a normal manner are offered shraddha on the tithi they left the world. However, there are some special tithis of the pitra paksha for performing shraddha karma for those people of the family who haven’t left the world in a normal way. Here is the list of those tithis –

  • Avidhava navmi (ninth day of pitra paksha) for women who died unmarried.
  • Twelfth lunar day for children and ascetics.
  • Ghata chaturdashi/ fourteenth day of pitra paksha for those who attained unnatural death.
  • If death day of someone is not known, he is offered Shraddha on sarvapitra Amavasya i.e. the last day of the pitra Paksha.

Apart from this, the fourth and fifth day of the pitra paksha is called bharani chauth and bharani panchmi and is allotted for shraddha karma of those who left the world in the past year.

So, this is how the auspicious fortnight of Pitra paksha is celebrated.