Pitru Paksha is a period in the Vedic calendar when Hindus pay their respect or homage to our ancestors (Pitrus). Pitru paksha is observed for sixteen Lunar days and during this time no auspicious ceremonies are performed. This year, Pitru Paksha begins on Tuesday, September 1 and ends on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

By Dr. Bharat Vaidya B.A.M.S., M.D.

Owner and Founder of Ayurved Sadhana

This sixteen day of observance ends on the New Moon day known as Sarvapitru Amavasya (New Moon). This also falls in line with the autumn equinox. During this period, when the sun transits from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere.

In Pitru Paksha or Shraddha Paksha, we pay respect to the soul of those who have departed this earth. During this sixteen-day period we do many pujas, rituals and donations which helps our ancestors to attain liberation of moksha. As this Pitru Paksha period is devoted to ancestors, it is considered inauspicious to buy new things or start any new venture.

The members of Masonic club, in Vishwanath Masonic lodge, Bombay, also observe this period by paying respect to the departed souls. Another name for this sentient timing is also known as Shraddha Paksha, when oblation is given to the ancestors, brahmin, cow, dog, raven or crow.

The dog is considered in Hindu mythology, a companion of Ya ma (main energy of death). We can also compare it with mythology Greek Cerberus. Raven or Crow is considered to be the messengers from our ancestors. So, when one is walking along a trail and find a feather in your path, this is considered to be a message from heaven. In other traditions, raven or crow is also given importance. In old times, there is a saying … if a crow comes to your doorstep and expresses his call, it means that some quests will be visiting your house.

In old Vedic text – Garud Puran, it is mentioned that a crow is the messenger of death energy or Yama and go door to door take oblation by which ancestors receive peace and satisfaction. Also, in Greek mythology, the raven is considered a good omen. In Norse Mythology, we can find the story of two ravens – Hug in and Mun in who helped spirits of God Odin.

In Ramayana, Sage Valmiki narrated a story of ‘Kag Bhushundi’ and was blessed by the energy of Ya ma with extraordinary telepathic abilities and also, receiving tremendous farsightedness as visual capacity. In Vedic Text, Shraddha Paksha Parijat, we can find the description of energies of death, Varna receive its messages from the crow by the people who have departed the mother earth. The crow or raven are also considered as the offspring of Yama and a vehicle of Shani or Saturn. In the famous TV series, Game of Thrones, we find Raven as being a messenger as well.

To honor your loved ones or ancestors who has left the mother earth, Dr. Vaidya advises all to visit a flowing body of water. Then, pray for your loved ones and offer flowers in their names into that flowing water.  Donation of jaggery in Pitru paksha is considered most favorable. You can also offer or donate food to hungry people or animals, help the people or animals in need, or basically do the good deeds to offer peace to souls who are with angels now. 

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