According to the Garud Puraana, every year the dark Fortnight or 15 days after the poornima or the krishna paksha in the Month of Ashwin (September – October) is considered auspicious for performing rites and ritual for our Ancestors.
Shraddhs are the ceremonies and rituals which are performed for the departed souls of our dead ancestors. It is believed that the souls will attain peace and happiness by the Shraddh rituals performed during the Shraddh Paksh.
According to the Hindu religion, the Shraddh performed on Ashwin Pitru Paksha reaches to the ancestors immediately and their souls rest in peace. The Hindu Puranas have full information about Shraddh, especially Agni Purana, Garuda Purana and Matysa Purana.
Yama (Yamraj), the god of death in Hindu mythology, has explained the importance of Shraddh performed on Pitru Paksha.
According to Matysa Purana, Agni, Vasus and Rudras act as intermediaries during Pitru Paksha Shraddh and take the rituals and food offered to ancestors. The ancestors bless those people performing the ritual.
In some places in our India 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 (Pitar). It is believed by the 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.
Shraddh is done to please the ancestors. Now you will think why even if they are dead then why should we bother about them?
Well when your ancestors are not resting in peace you too will not be able to be in peace. You will often face some problem or the other. There will be disputes in the family.The family members will be meeting with unforeseen accidents and the list will just go on.
The customs and rituals performed during Pitru Paksha Shraddh vary from religion to religion. Some people fast on the day. Some people observe specific customs like abstaining from non-vegetarian food 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.
If one is planning to start any new activity thenit is advised to avoid Shraddh period as it is not a good time.
-The society is becoming extremely materialistic and things like giving something to someone without reasons, like food and clothing are getting scarce. Hence the celebration of pitru paksha should act to somehow awaken these habits in people.
-Even if you do not think that the people who have left for their heavenly abode do not need anything, still the actual things you are offering are to the poor and the needy so in a way you are helping them out.
-It is always good to remain connected with the past and the ancestors and not completely forget them. This time at least acts as a special fortnight where you can do so and try and learn something about your ancestors and possibly draw a leaf from the book of their lives.
-Apart from the ancestors who have departed, this also symbolizes taking care of the elders which is very important in modern day society where the aged people are not getting proper care and get isolated
Shraddh Paksh is Beginning from 6 September, 2017 to September 19, 2017