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Pitru Paksha

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pitri Paksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष), also spelt as Pitru paksha (in West and South) or Pitri paksha (in North and East), (literally "fortnight of the ancestors") is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestor (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitru PakshyaPitri PokkhoSola Shraddha ("sixteen shraddhas"), KanagatJitiyaMahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.

Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (forthnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the forthnight immediately after the Ganesh festival. It begins on the Padyami (first day of the forthnight) ending with the new moon day known as Sarvapitri amavasyaPitru AmavasyaPeddala AmavasyaMahalaya amavasya or simply Mahalaya. Most years, the autumnal equinox falls within this period, i.e. the Sun transitions from the northern to the southern hemisphere during this period. In North India and Nepal, and cultures following the purnimanta calendar or the solar calendar, this period may correspond to the waning fortnight of the luni-solar month Ashvin, instead of Bhadrapada.

Legend

According to Hinduism, the souls of three preceding generations of one's ancestor reside in Pitru–loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru–loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shraddha offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shraddha rites, in which Yama plays a significant role.[5] According to the sacred Hindu epics, at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Libra (Tula). Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants' homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac—Scorpio (Vrichchhika)—and there is a full moon. Hindus are expected to propitiate the ancestors in the first half, during the dark fortnight.

When the legendary donor Karna died in the epic Mahabharata war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food. However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food. Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory. To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 15–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. This period is now known as Pitru Paksha.[7] In some legends, Yama replaces Indra.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitru_Paksha

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