What is Mahalaya Paksha?
Mahalaya Paksha is a 16 lunar period during which Hindus pay their respects and homage to their ancestors. In addition, they perform a ritual called shraddha, in which they offer specially cooked food to the ancestors.
The last day of Pitru Paksha is Mahalaya Amavasya. Mahalaya Amavasya is the most important day of the 16 days Pitru Paksha period.
Rituals performed during Mahalaya Paksha:
The family members seek apology from their forefathers and pray that their souls rest in peace. Some main rituals of the Mahalaya Paksha are below.
- Tarpan and Shraddha rituals are performed for the deceased family members who passed away on the ‘Chaturdashi, ‘Amavasya, or ‘Purnima tithi.
- During Mahalaya, the observer of rituals rises early and finishes the morning rituals.
- The person observing rituals and his family wear yellow clothes on this day and invite a Brahmin to their house.
- It is usually the eldest male of a family who observes the shraddha ceremony.
- The observer of the shraddha ceremony performs the rituals bare-chested, as the position of the sacred thread worn by him needs to be changed multiple times during the ceremony.
- When the Brahmin comes, the observer of the ritual washes their feet and provides them a clean place to sit.
- The Brahmin priest conducting the Pitra Paksha rituals will sit facing the northern direction.
- Sesame seeds are sprinkled on the floor where the priest is seated.
- The Brahmin priest recites the shraddha mantras and invokes the ancestors of the observer’s family.
- The observer of rituals has to wear a ring of darbha grass. The priest invokes the ancestors of the observer to come and reside in the ring.
- The Pitrus (ancestors) are worshipped with dhoop, diya, and flowers.
- The shraddha ceremony involves pinda dana, an offering to the ancestors of pindas (cooked rice and barley flour balls mixed with ghee and black sesame seeds), accompanying the release of water from the observer’s hand.
- Subsequently, Lord Vishnu and Yama are worshipped.
- The food offering is then made, and it is then placed on the roof for the crow.
- The Special food is prepared for the shraddha event is offered to the Brahmins once the puja rituals are complete.
- Once the crow and Brahmins finish eating the food, the family members can start eating the lunch.
- The Mahalaya Paksha rituals help to receive the blessings of the family ancestors.
- These rituals can bring welfare and prosperity to a family and free them from curses.
- The observer of this ritual receives Lord Yama’s blessings, and he and his family are safeguarded from all kinds of evils.
- As the Hindu scriptures, if a person fails to observe the shraddha of their ancestors during the first 15 days or if the death date is not known, then the ‘tarpan’ on their behalf can be observed on the day of ‘Sarvapitra Moksha Amavasya.’
- It is believed that on Mahalaya Paksha, the forefathers and ancestors visit their home, and if their shraddha ritual is not observed on their behalf, they return hungry and unhappy.
- According to Astrology, the sins and mistakes committed by the ancestors are reflected in their children’s horoscope as ‘Pitra Dosh.’ Due to their sins, the souls of ancestors do not attain salvation and wander searching for peace. Performing the shraddha rituals to the ancestors on the Mahalaya Paksha banishes the ‘Pitru Dosh’ and provides salvation to the wandering soul.
- As a sort of thanksgiving, the ancestors bless their family members and grant them happiness in life.
- The shraddha rituals performed on the pitra moksha Amavasya day are considered sacred as those shraddha rituals observed in Gaya, the holy town known for performing such rites.
Things not to do during Pitru Paksha:
The Pitru Paksha, the fortnight of the ancestors, is the designated period to perform rituals to the deceased ancestors. As this Paksha is primarily meant for paying obeisance to one’s dead relatives,
auspicious functions like engagement, marriage, house warming, and child’s head tonsuring ceremony are not scheduled during the period.
Mahalaya Paksha Dates 2021:
The 2021 Pitru Paksha Shraddha names and dates are given below for your easy reference.
|Shraddha Name||Shraddha Date|
|Purnima Shraddha||Monday, 20 September|
|Pratipada Shraddha||Tuesday, 21 September|
|Dwitiya Shraddha||Wednesday, 22 September|
|Tritiya Shraddha||Thursday, 23 September|
|Chaturthi Shraddha||Friday, 24 September|
|Maha Bharani||Friday, 24 September|
|Panchami Shraddha||Saturday, 25 September|
|Shashthi Shraddha||Sunday, 26 September|
|Saptami Shraddha||Tuesday, 28 September|
|Ashtami Shraddha||Wednesday, 29 September|
|Navami Shraddha||Thursday, 30 September|
|Dashami Shraddha||Friday, 01 October|
|Ekadashi Shraddha||Saturday, 02 October|
|Dwadashi Shraddha||Sunday, 03 October|
|Magha Shraddha||Sunday, 03 October|
|Trayodashi Shraddha||Monday, 04 October|
|Chaturdashi Shraddha||Tuesday, 05 October|
|Sarvapitru Amavasya||Wednesday, 06 October|
Perform the Mahalaya Paksha rituals to your deceased ancestors accordingly, receive their blessings and flourish in life.