Śrāddha or Shradh Puja is a Sanskrit word and is considered as an auspicious event in Hindu traditions where people pay homage and gratitude to their ancestors. It is also known as ‘Shradh paksha’, ‘Pitru paksha’, ‘Mahalaya Paksha’ or ‘Pitru Tarpan’. Vedic Astrologer Master Deepak Ji describes Shradh Puja in Karma Aur Kismat Konnection TV show to explain its significance. According to Master Deepak Ji, Shradh Puja that it is a period of 16 lunar days people make food offerings, clothes, presents and ‘Dakshina’ to Brahmins or poor people to make their ancestors happy and let them shower their blessings on their family.
There are two important assumptions for Shradh period in India.
Every lunar month is divided into two pakshas, each having 15 days. These pakshas are ‘Shukla paksha’ and ‘Krishna paksha’.
Master Deepak Ji explains that as per North Indian Purnima Calendar, Shradh starts with the waning fortnight of the lunisolar month ‘Ashvin’ and continues in the first 15 lunar days of Bhadrapada whereas in South and West India, it falls in Krishna paksha in the month of Bhadrapada beginning with the full moon day and ends up with Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya. The last day of Pitru Paksha is considered as the most important shradh of shradh ceremony as on this day, the shradh of all the deceased persons in the family with the unknown death date can be performed.
Who should perform Shradh?
According to Guru Ji, Shradh is performed by the eldest son of the family. In his absence, the younger son or any male in the patrilineal branch confined to the heralding three generations of the family is allowed to perform the ritual. If there is no son in the family, then daughter’s son can also offer the rituals for the maternal family.
Why do we perform Shradh?
Shradh is the most important ritual performed every year on the death anniversary of departed souls to pray for their peace. Since it is the only way through which Hindus can repay the debts made by their forefathers, so it becomes an essential responsibility of a son to perform shradh. In Hindu mythologies, after the death of a person, his or her soul wanders a number of worlds or ‘loks’ as described in the holy book ‘Garuda Purana’. So, Master Deepak Ji believes that performing Shradh, Pinda Daan, and Tarpan libation of holy water for the ancestors satisfy the hunger and thirst of the departed soul while it is wandering from various worlds. Therefore, Shradh rituals are considered necessary during the first year of the death.
Shradh calendar begins from Sep 05 to September 19. The rituals of Shradh puja includes a number of ceremonies. It is a way to pay tribute, honor, and thanks to our ancestors for whatever they have done for their sons and families. So Master Deepak Ji explains that in the period of Shradh, people visit pilgrimages like Haridwar, Pehowa also offers Dakshina, clothes, food to priests/ brahmins and pay them for reciting prayers for the well being of the ancestors. Apart from this, few families also organize prayer ceremonies and Bhagavad Gita recital programs at their homes but the most important way to perform shradh ceremony is offering food. People invite Brahmins to their homes offer them foods and make several donations.
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Master Deepak Ji say that humans owe so much to their ancestors from their existence to whatever their parents, grandparents or forefathers have done for them. There is no other way except Shradh ceremonies to give offerings to them. It is believed that everything offered to our ancestors during Shradh days reaches them in their life after death and this ritual helps to please them. As a result, they bless their families for a happy and prosperous life.
Master Deepak Ji unveiled facts and stories behind different Hindu rituals with their astrological significances so that his listeners can understand why these practices have been followed from ancient times.