“PitruPaksha (पितृ पक्ष) “fortnight of the ancestors” is a 16–lunar day period in the Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors , especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, PitriPokkho, Sorah Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya, Apara Paksha and akhadpak, PitruPandharavda or pitrupaksh.
“During this time, Hindus pay tribute to their ancestors for the reponse of their souls. Pitru Paksha holds a special significance in Hinduism. In Pitru Paksha or Shradh Paksha, Pinddaan, Tarpan, and Shradh, is performed for the peace of departed souls.”
This ritual about Pitru Paksha has been framed by our ancestors so that we canforge a cosmic connection with our ancestors and stay in their remembrance. The purpose is to divert our attention from the attractions of the material world and connect ourselves with the subtle realm, the plane belonging to our ancestors.
There is a certain ethos we follow, which ascertains our continuance as the civilization of the world. Pitru Paksha is one of those, which begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitri Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya Amavasya. The end of Pitru Paksha and the beginning of Matri Paksha is named Mahalaya.
These 16 days of Pitru Paksha have been fixed so that we may spend some time for our ancestors, with dedication and reverence. Hence, as Hindus, we should repay their debt to the ancestors in the Pitru Paksha. This debt is considered of utmost importance along with a person’s debt to his gurus and his parents. The period to repay the debt of not only our immediate ancestors and their ancestors and their ancestors but of all those from whom the human race descended. We should be grateful to all of them who nurtured our forefathers with love and affection.
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or Tarpana. It is not considered appropriate to buy new things, start a new business or undertake any social celebration like marriage, etc. Oftentimes, we have also heard that we shouldn’t buy anything prominent, including a house or a vehicle, during Pitru Paksha. This doesn’t in any way mean that Pitru Paksha is bad, a time to remain mournful and not perform any good actions,but a way to live in the divine presence of our ancestors.
As we Hindus believe that Shraddha of ancestors performed during this period grants peace, and salvation (moksha) to our ancestors, and that makes it a festival of celebration, contrary to the popular belief.
Suppose, one doesn’t know the right tithi of his forefathers to perform shraddha, he can do so on the last day – Sarvapitri Amavasya. Rites performed on this day can also compensate for a forgotten or neglected annual Shraddha ceremony, which should ideally coincide with the death anniversary of the deceased. Accordingly, the ceremony is central to the concept of lineages.
This has been mentioned in the holy writings of the Gita and the Vedas, which say, offerings made to the departed during Pitru Paksha bring peace to their souls and helps them reach their divine destination. It involves oblations to three preceding generations – by reciting their names-as well as to the lineage ancestor (gotra). A person thus gets to know the names of six generations (three preceding generations, his own, and two succeeding generations -his sons and grandsons) in his life, reaffirming lineage ties.
The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (pitris), along with the gods (devas), elements (bhutas), and guests. Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge, and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer.
Performance of shraddh is a gateway of obeisance for the current generation. Hence, consider it compulsory , to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven and bestow you with good health and wealth.Thus, making it a cause of happiness for the current generation.