A RITUAL IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE GONE: SHRADHA
Citizen Journalist Amaya
What is Shraadh?
The word is derived from Sanskrit, it means sincerity and faith. In our religion it is a ritual to perform homage to the ancestors. Certain rituals are performed to express gratitude and honour towards the ancestors. It is performed on the death anniversary or during the Shraddha Paksh, right before Sharad Navaratri in Autumn. Some perform it at home while some travel to holy places like Gaya, Varanasi, Haridwar to perform the Pitra Paksha Shraadh ritual. The 15 day period starts with Pratipada Shradh (20 september this year) and ends with Sarvapitri Amavasya (4th october this year).
THINGS TO DO
- It is considered auspicious to make offerings to the poor on this occasion
- Feed the Brahmins as it is said that whatever they are fed reaches the departed souls, donate clothes and other items.
- Sesame seeds are considered propitious, so one should donate them while performing the rituals. Kusha grass is also considered auspicious.
- Pure vegetarian food, fruits and cereals should be offered with devotion to our ancestors.
- Some specific times should be avoided to perform the ritual like before sunrise, shukla paksh, night time or the birthday of the person doing the shraadh.
- To perform Panchbali keep apart five morsels of cooked food for a dog, sinner, leper, sick and a crow on five leaves
- Chaturdashi-fourteenth day of pitrapaksha is chosen for the ancestors who died in war or by weapons.
- It is mandatory to feed at least two sadhaks or brahmin priests who have helped you in the performance of the ritual. Crows are symbolic of our ancestors in Hindu Philosphy so they are to be fed after the ritual too.
- Donation or Daan of Land, Cow(godaan), Gold, Silver, Jaggery and salt is encouraged in this auspicious ritual.
THINGS NOT TO DO
- Purchase of new clothes or things is not recommended. The day the ritual is performed male members of the family should not shave or get a hair-cut.
- Birth ceremonies, marriages and other such auspicious events are prohibited during this period.
- Avoid using an iron vessel and don’t cover the cooked food that is to be donated with any used cloth. Silver vessels are advised for the performance of this ritual
- On that particular day when the ritual is to be performed the person doing Shradhkarma and the Brahmin who is performing the ritual, should follow celibacy.
- Eating Betel Leaf, getting oil-massage-considered symbols of pleasure are to be avoided. One should also refrain from using Kasturi, Gorochan and Rakht chandan.
- Considering the dignity of the occasion it is advised to avoid the usage of any brightly coloured or strongly scented flowers.
The reason of Shradhkarma has scientfic as well as logical reasoning. Human body is said to be made up of five Koshas-Annamaya kosha(body), Pranmaya Kosha (heart), Manonaya Kosha(mind), Vigyanmaya Kosha(wisdom), Anandmaya Kosha(blessings)-which are interwined with each other to help one transcend the life-death cycle and attain liberation. Four of the koshas after death remain in the world and keep moving. So for the liberation of the souls from the pains and desires , this ritual grants them peace.
The essence of this ritual lies in the gratitude and honour towards the descendents and not just in following any strict regime and mantras. The donation should be made with love and devotion in remeberance so as to add meaning to this pious ritual.