27 September, 2012

Pitru Paksha Shraadh

When the legendary donor Karna died in the epic Mahabharata war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food. However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food. Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory. To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 16–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. This period is now known as Pitru Paksha. It is considered inauspicious due to its association with death.

The shraddh is performed on the specific lunar day during the Pitru Paksha, when the ancestor—usually a parent or paternal grandparent—died. There are exceptions to the lunar day rule; special days are allotted for people who died in a particular manner or had a certain status in life. Chautha Bharani and Bharani Panchami, the fourth and fifth lunar day respectively, are allocated for people deceased in the past year. Avidhava navami ("Unwidowed ninth"), the ninth lunar day, is for married women who died before their husband. Widowers invite Brahmin women as guests for their wife's shraddha. The twelfth lunar day is for children and ascetics who had renounced the worldly pleasures. The fourteenth day is known as Ghata chaturdashi or Ghayala chaturdashi, and is reserved for those people killed by arms, in war or suffered a violent death.

Mahalaya marks the formal beginning of the Durga Puja festival. Sarvapitri amavasya ("all fathers' new moon day") is intended for all ancestors, irrespective of the lunar day they died. It is the most important day of the Pitru Paksha. Those who have forgotten to perform shraddha can do so on this day.
(source: wikipedia.org)

Pitru Paksha Shraddh in 2012:

30 Sep 2012: Pitru Paksha begins (Purnima Shraadh)
1 Oct 2012: Dwitiya Shraadh
2 Oct 2012: Tritiya Shraadh
3 Oct 2012: Bharni Shraadh
4 Oct 2012: Chaturthi Shraadh
5 Oct 2012: Pahchami Shraadh
6 Oct 2012: Shasti Shraadh
7 Oct 2012: Saptami Shraadh
8 Oct 2012: Ashtami Shraadh
9 Oct 2012: Navami Shraadh (Avidhava Navami)
10 Oct 2012: Dasami Shraadh
11 Oct 2012: Ekadasi Shraadh
12 Oct 2012: Dwadashi Shraadh (Sanyasi Shraadh)
13 Oct 2012: Trayodashi Shraadh
14 Oct 2012: Chaturdashi Shraadh
15 Oct 2012: Sarvapitru Shraadh. (Amavasya)

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