Shradh is known as the mourning period in Hindu culture and is an important ritual as per the Hindu tradition. The 15-day lunar period takes place during the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar. During these days, Hindus pay homage to their ancestors or Pitras, especially through food offerings. In 2018, Shradh or Pitru Paksha will commence on September 24 and end on October 8. Shradh falls immediately after the last day of Ganesh visarjan. Shradh Puja is performed to gratify one’s ancestors, an act of tribute and respect and devotion towards them. Below we discuss the significance of performing Shradh Puja and rituals to follow.
Shradh 2018: Pitru Paksha Calendar (According to Drik Panchang)
24th September – Purnima Shradh
25th September – Pratipada Shradh
26th September – Dwitiya Shradh
27th September – Tritiya Shradh
28th September – Maha Bharani, Chaturthi Shradh
29th September – Panchami Shradh
30th September – Shashthi Shradh
1st October – Saptami Shradh
2nd October – Ashtami Shradh
3rd October – Navami Shradh
4th October – Dashami Shradh
5th October – Ekadashi Shradh
6th October – Magha Shradh, Dwadashi Shradh
7th October – Travodashi Shradh, Chaturdashi Shradh
8th October – Sarva Pitru Amavasya
Significance of Pitru Paksha:
According to a mythological legend, when Karna died in the Mahabharata war he was taken to heaven. In heaven, he was offered with gold and jewels as food but he could not eat it, thus he needed real food. He asked Indra, the King of Gods why he was served with jewels and gold. Indra replied that Karna had been generous to his ancestors in Shradh. He did not donate any food but gave gold instead. So Karna was allowed to return on Earth for 15 days so that he could perform proper Shradh. This period of his return to Earth is called as Shradh.
It is believed in Hinduism that souls of the dead go to Pitralok, between heaven and earth. The Shradh rituals are done for the last three generations in a family. So people offer food and water in the memory of their ancestors.
Puja Rituals for Pitru Paksha:
There is a belief that food, water and clothes will please the soul of your ancestors. The male member or the eldest son of the family perform the puja rituals. There should be nothing inauspicious should occur while the prayers are being offered. People seek peace for their ancestors' souls. Several people make donations or go feed the poor. The more you donate to the people, the more it is considered good for the souls. Shradh rites need to be performed properly for the overall well-being of the family.