Pitru Paksha, is a 16 day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors mainly through food offerings.
It is said that the ancestors residing in the Pitruloka are allowed to visit the earth during the Pitru Paksha to accept the oblations given by their descendants.
It is important that Shradh should be performed by the son, the eldest one, or a male relative of the paternal branch of the family.
However, on Sarvapitri Amavasya, the daughter’s son can offer Shradh for the maternal side of his family if a male heir is absent from his mother’s family.
It is also observed that some castes only perform the Shradh for one generation. Before performing the rite of Shradh, the male should have experienced a sacred thread ceremony.
The royal family of Kutch, the king or heirs of the throne are prohibited from conducting Shradh because the ceremony is considered inauspicious as it is associated with death.
Procedure of the Shradh rituals:
As mentioned earlier, the ritual of this puja is commenced by the eldest member of the family, particularly the eldest son of a family or any other male member.
After taking bath and wearing clean clothes, the person wears a ring made of Kush grass. Kush grass is a symbol of kindness and is used to invoke ancestors.
Then, the person offers balls made from barley flour, sesame seeds, and rice as a part of Pind Daan. He then takes blessings of Lord Vishnu by offering grass known as darbha grass.
After that, he offers the food, which is specially prepared for Shradh to crow (Crow is considered as the messenger of Yama). The food is also offered to priests.
Reading of holy books like Ganga Avataram, The Tales of Nachiketa, Agni Purana and Garuda Purana is also considered auspicious.
Food for Shradh:
The food offered to ancestors during Shradh is generally cooked in silver or copper vessels and is normally placed on a banana leaf or cups made of dried leaves.
The food must include Kheer (a dessert made of rice and milk), dal (lentils), the vegetable of spring bean (guar), a yellow gourd (pumpkin) and lapsi (a sweet porridge made of wheat grains). Food may also differ according to different cultures.
Things you should not do during Pitru Paksha:
•As the days are dedicated to ancestors, therefore, your puja will only be successful if you perform the rituals without any kind of negativity in mind. So, make sure to begin the rituals only after getting rid of all the negative thoughts.
•Do not go for any new beginning like buying new clothes or buying a new house or starting a new business. Any other big celebration like engagement or wedding should also be avoided.
•Make sure that you do not harm dogs, cats, and cows during this period, instead, offer them food whenever possible.
•One should also avoid eating non-vegetarian food or food with onion and garlic. Also avoid using black salt, jeera, mustard oil while preparing food during this period.>