Mahalaya Pitri Paksha: Do’s and Don’ts


Hindus perform the Shraddha rituals in order to pay obeisance to their departed forefathers or ancestors. The shraddha ceremony for the departed soul is performed on the tithi on which the person left for the heavenly abode. One who performs the shraddha ritual every year is blessed with happiness, prosperity and a long, healthy life.

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Pitripaksha is a 15 days long period which commences from Bhadrapada Shukla Purnima and ends on Ashwin Krishna Amavasya. Hindus perform the Shraddha rituals in order to pay obeisance to their departed forefathers or ancestors. The shraddha ceremony for the departed soul is performed on the tithi on which the person left for the heavenly abode. One who performs the shraddha ritual every year is blessed with happiness, prosperity and a long, healthy life.

Signs of Pitri Dosha

Following are the indications of Pitri Dosha:
The hair of any elderly person of the family turns yellow after being white or any elderly family member suffers from chronic bronchitis (black cough)
Your image in the society gets tarnished
Frequent clashes in family
Frequent illness in the family
Consistent economic crisis in the family and failure to achieve success in work
You are not having a child or your child is weak on a physical or mental level
Delay in marriage

Necessary guidelines for Pitri Pooja

Do not offer meat as food offerings to the ancestors.
Do not eat meat on the day of pooja.
Do not use steel, iron, plastic or glass utensils for offerings in the pooja. Use earthen utensils or leaves for offerings to the deceased ancestors.
Do not ring bell (ghanta) in the pooja.
Avoid creating any kind of disturbances for the person who is performing the pooja. 
Respect elderly people.

Identification of Pitri (deceased ancestors)

Read the 11th adhyaya of Shrimad Bahagawat Gita and you will dream of your ancestors.
Wash your feet and hands before retiring to bed at night and pray to your ancestors to visualize them in dreams.
If any of your work is stuck, remember your ancestors and pray to them so that your work is accomplished. Also, make a promise that you will perform a ‘Shanti Path’ in their honour. Once your work is done after the prayers, it will be proved that people should perform rites for the peace of their ancestors.

Solutions for Pitri Dosha

The tarpan rites and offering pind daan for an ancestor should be done on the tithi on which the person died. One should feed the Brahmins and also offer clothes to them.

If the tithi of death is unknown then tarpan and pind daan should be done on the Amavasya of Shraddha Paksha.
Food offerings (pitri bhog) should be made every Amavasya especially on Somvati Amavasya. On this day, dry cow-dung cakes should be burnt and kheer should be offered on top of it. Water should then be sprinkled on it after which one should fold hands and pay respects to the ancestors.
Sun should be offered water during sunrise and Gayatri mantra should be recited.

Water, flowers, milk, holy waters of Ganga and black sesame seeds should be offered to a peepal tree while remembering the ancestors. One should ask for apology for mistakes committed and seek blessings from one’s forefathers.

One should feed the cow with jaggery and wheat on Sundays.

According to ‘lal kitab’, an equal amount of money like 1, 5 or 10 rupees donated in the name of all the blood relations of the family such as grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, uncle, sister, daughter, brother and aunt, in the temple frees one from the ‘pitri rin’ (debt).

Listening to Harivansh Puran and reciting Gayatri mantra is well-known for the peace of ancestors.

Tripindi Shraddha or Nandi Shraddha should be performed in Gaya or Trayambakeshwar.

Narayanbali pooja should be done.

The occasion of Pitri Gayatri should be conducted.

Pitri Gayatri Mantra:

“Om Devatabhya Pitribhyascha Mahayogibhyeva Cha
Namah Swahayay Swadhayay Nityameva Namo Namah”

This mantra should be recited while performing all kinds of remedial acts such as offering Pind Daan, Gaya Shraddha or Pitri Bhog to free oneself from Pitri Dosha.
There are 99 days in total for making offerings in a year (12 death tithis, 12 Amavasya, 12 Purnima, 12 Sankranti, 12 Vaidhriti Yoga, 24 Ekadashi and 15 days of Shraddha). 

In the modern day hectic schedule, it is not possible for a person to make all these offerings in a year. As a solution, Pitri Paksha can be chosen as the time to make offerings to one’s ancestors. 

Tarpan and the method of Sadhana

Tarpan of gods (devas), Saints, Divya Pitar, Yama and one’s own forefathers:

A. Purification of self


One needs to recite the Gayatri mantra and tie the shikha

One should put tilak or chandan on the forehead.

One should do praanayam by uttering Om.


One needs to take water in the right hand, recite the following mantra and sip the water (do aachman)
“Om Keshavaya Namah
Om Madhavaya Namah
Om Narayana Namah”


One should take kusha (a type of grass), yava (barley), a few grains of rice (akshat chawal) in the right hand and take a sankalp (resolve) by chanting the required mantra.

Tarpan of gods, saints and pitar etc.

Beckoning call to Vishve-Devas (ten sons of god)-

At first sandal, few grains of rice, barley, flowers, basil leaves (tulsi) should be placed on a copper plate. After this, three kusha leaves should be placed on the plate. Then, the first beckoning call should be made after which water should be offered by reciting mantras to perform the tarpana.

Tarpana of Gods (Devas)

The tarpana of gods should be offered by reciting mantras.

The beckoning call to the saints

One should wear the sacred thread and light cotton towel around the neck. As one sits facing North,  kusha and barley should be taken in hand and two anjalies (little water taken between the fingers) of water should be offered as tarpan.
Tarpan of the saints (rishis)

Mantras should be recited to offer tarpan to the sages.

Beckoning call of invitation to the divine forefathers

At first, the sacred thread and a light cotton towel should be placed on the right shoulder (Apasavya). Then, motak, til and water should be taken in the hands and anjali should be offered thrice.

Tarpan of the divine forefathers

Mantras should be recited to offer tarpan in remembrance of one’s divine ancestors.
A  plea to the fourteen Yamas (gods of death)

At first, one should face South and place the left knee under the thigh with Apasavya (sacred thread and light cotton towel placed on the right shoulder). Three anjalies of water along with kusha and til should then be offered to the fourteen Yamas.
 Tarpans or offering three anjalies of water to each of the Yamas-

The following mantras should be recited while making the offerings:

‘Om Yamaya Namah’
‘Om Dharma Rajaya Namah’
‘Om Mrityawe Namah’
‘Om Anantakaya Namah’
‘Om Vaivasvataya Namah’
‘Om Kalaya Namah’
‘Om Sarva-Bhutah-Kshaya Namah’
‘Om Produmbraya Namah’
‘Om Dadhnaya Namah’
‘Om Neelaya Namah’
‘Om Parmeshtine Namah’
‘Om Vrikodaraya Namah’
‘Om Chitraya Namah’
‘Om Chitraguptaya Namah’ 

Prayer to one’s own forefathers to come to the place of worship
Water along with motak, kusha and til should be offered as mentioned before. 
Tarpan of one’s own ancestors (pitara)-

Tarpan should be offered as a remembrance, to father, grandfather, great grandfather, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, grandfather maternal side with wife, great grandfather with wife, old great grandfather with wife.

Tarpan to other relatives and friends-

One anjali should be offered to friends and relatives by chanting mantras.
Tarpan to those forefathers who did not have sons
The thin cotton towel should be four-folded, dipped in water and then squeezed to offer tarpan.

Tarpan to Bheeshma Pitaamah

At first, the sacred thread and the thin cotton towel should be placed on the left shoulder (Savya) and then water should be offered to Bheeshma Pitaamah.
‘Arghya’ (offering) to Sun god (Surya devta)

Bowers and water should be taken in the right hand and then the sacred water should be offered.

Namaskar (salutation) to Dik-palas-

One should reverentially fold hands before Dik-pals (security guards of different dishas or directions) and offer water by chanting the following mantras:

‘Om Indraya Namah’- Purva Disha
‘Om Yamaya Namah’- Dakshin Disha
‘Om Varunaya Namah’- Paschim Disha
‘Om Somaya Namah’- Uttar Disha
‘Om Brahmane Namah’- Udharva Disha
‘Om Agnaye Namah’- Nairitya Kona
‘Om Vayave Namah’- Vayavya Kona
‘Om Ishanaya Namah’- Ishan Kona
‘Om Anantaya Namah’- Adha Disha

In the middle of the offering, rice, sandal, and flowers should be offered to gods by reciting mantras.


As every beginning has an end, Tarpan too has an ending. To end the tarpan, flowers, rice and sandal should be taken in hand and mantras should be recited to see-off the gods.


At the end, the entire process of worship should be offered to the Almighty or Supreme God. One should fold hands reverentially and offer flowers, sandal and rice to God while chanting the following mantra:

‘Anena Yatha-Shakti-Kritena Deva-Rishi-Pitri-Tarpanakhyena Karmana Bhagwan Mama Samasta-Pitri-Swarupi Janardan Vasudevah Priyatang Na Mama’
Om Tat-sat Brahmarpanamastu