Pitru Paksha is a 16-lunar day period to pay homage to the ancestors (Pitr). This year (2020) Pitru Paksha is from 2nd to 17th September. It falls during the waning phase (Krishna Paksha) immediately after Ganesha Chathurthi and right before Sharad Navratri (9 nights of Goddess = Navratri, Sharad = autumn)
Śrāddha or Tarpana is unique to the Indian diaspora, especially the practitioners of Sanatana Dharma (colloquially called Hinduism) where paying homage to one’s ancestors is considered an individual’s highest Dharma. This is something to ponder over. It is neither giving birth nor performing danam (charity) but paying homage to the dead in your family that is considered the highest Dharma. There is no English word for Śrāddha – to have devotion, to have absolute faith in, sincerity, to entrust, to give credence – all these phrases together mean Śrāddha. It is our ancestors who entrusted
us with this world by giving us birth. We in turn create the opportunity for moksha (loosely translated as liberation from the birth & death cycle) by carrying out generational karmas (or traumas in many cases) with the aid of our ancestors. Pitris help our life in the physical form for their moksha depends on ours in the physical form. Śrāddha is a renewal of vows of sorts that serves as a reminder of the faith & responsibility put in us by our parents, grandparents & great-grandparents
Indians do pindha daan (offer rice balls) in Śrāddha as a token of their love & respect. But this can be done in any way that resonates with you. Donating clothes & food, preparing favorite meals of those deceased, remembering them fondly, playing their favorite music, telling stories about them or just resolving to work on the dysfunctions of the lineage as a means to create healthier life. The more intentional practitioners of Śrāddha have a systematic method to their process which I’m happy to share with anyone who inquires
One needs to also remember that the soul cannot be liberated as it is neither born nor does it die. Moksha in true essence is liberation from attachment that keeps us in bondage. Once liberated, your being would not feel the burden of life & death cycle. Participating in the cycle will then become seamless.
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