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Pitru Paksha also known as Pitri paksha is observed as a 16 lunar day period in Hindu calendar during which Hindus pay homage and respect to their ancestor (Pitrs), by offering food. It is also known as the fortnight of the ancestors. The period is also known by the following names – Pitri Pokkho, Sola Shraddha, Jitiya, Kanagat, Pitru Pakshya , Mahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.
When It Is Observed?
According to North Indian Purnimant calendar this period falls in the lunar month of Ashwin, which begins with the full moon day in Bhadrapada or next day of full moon day.
According to South Indian Amavasyant calendar, shraddhas falls in the lunar month of Bhadrapada which begins with the full moon day or day after full moon day. In North India and Nepal, and cultures following the purnimanta calendar or the solar calendar, this period may correspond to the abating fortnight of the luni-solar month Ashvin, instead of Bhadrapada.
How It Is Observed?
In order, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven, in Hindus, the sharaddha is performed by the son. The shraddha is performed on the specific lunar day during the Pitru Paksha, when the ancestor—usually a parent or paternal grandparent—died. Sarvapitri amavasya (all ancestors’ new moon day) is intended for all ancestors, regardless of the lunar day they died. It is the most important day of the Pitru Paksha. Those who have forgotten to perform shraddha can do so on this day.
On Chautha Bharani and Bharani Panchami, which are the fourth and fifth lunar day respectively, sharaddha is performed for the people who lost their life in the past year. On Avidhava navami (Unwidowed ninth), which is the ninth lunar day, sharaddha is performed for married women who died before their husband. Brahmin women are invited as guests for the deceased’s shraddha and offer food and dakshina to her. During the twelfth lunar day, sharaddha is performed for children and those family members who had discarded the worldly pleasures. On the fourteenth day, which is known as Ghata chaturdashi, sharaddha is performed for those people who died due to some violent acts or are killed by the arms. It is must that the meal prepared on that day is consumed by the crow as it is considered as the messenger of Yama. A Brahmin is also invited and offered the meal and dakshina.