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Hindu festival in India: Shraddh Paksh: Pitri Paksh

Updated on September 15, 2016

Hindu Priest on Shraddh day

A Hindu Priest  at Ram Chandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Kolkata,  West Bengal on Mahalaya, the last day of Shraddh Paksh.
A Hindu Priest at Ram Chandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Kolkata, West Bengal on Mahalaya, the last day of Shraddh Paksh. | Source

Shraddh Paksh Pitri Paksh in 2016

Shraddh Paksha (Pitri Paksha) starts from September 16, Friday in 2014. It will be ended with Mahalaya Shraddh on Saturday, September 30. Navratri will be starting from the next day October 01.

Please do not forget to view auspicious time (Muhurt) for Tarpan during this Pitri paksha and shopping suggested by Vedic astrologers in the bottom of this article.

Shraddh, Pitri paksha and Antyesti

Shraddh Paksha or Pitri Paksha holds a very important place in Hindu festivals in India. Gujrati people in India spell and pronounce Pitri Paksha as Pitru Paksha.

The word Shraddh is derived from word Shraddha in the Sanskrit language that means respect and faith. Shraddh is a ritualistic custom in the Hindu religion. It holds a very important place in Sanatan Dharma.

Paksha means here fortnight. the word meaning of Paksha in the Sanskrit language is a wing of a bird. Indian linguists imagined a lunar month with two fortnights as two wings of a bird. Hence, a fortnight is called Paksha.

Agni, Garud, Matsya and Vayu Purana, all these medieval Hindu scriptures depict significance of Shraddh. These Puranas also explain the procedure with who, when and whom. Garud Puran is the most important scripture about the topic where god Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, depicts the journey of Pretatma. Path of Garud Puran is almost customary in the third day after death (Tiya or uthavana) of a Hindu person. Lord Yama, god of death, himself depicted the importance and procedures of Shraddh.

Shraddh and Funeral rites are different from each other. Funeral rites (antyeshti) are Amangal (inauspicious) but Shraddh is Mangal (auspicious). A dead body (sthula sharira) of a person is burnt customarily in Hindu society. This is called funeral, the Antyeshti. Hindus believe that the Jeevatma (soul) cannot get out of the dead body without a vehicle, Linga-sharira (subtle body). Departed soul hovers around crematorium. This is referred as Pretatma (Ghost) who is invested in a subtle body. The Pretatma or Preta has no physical existence or body who can enjoy anything earthly and remains in continual uncomfortable and restless state.

The antyeshti or funeral rites, carried out for twelve days after death, is to provide peace to the restless soul, Pretatma. Hindus believe that this ritual also helps the Pret to get an intermediate body, between the Linga and Sthula Sharira. Though it is made of gross particles but it is different from a physical body. This intermediary body helps to proceed to his journey to Pitri Loka. The process is called gati (movement) according to Hindu belief.

Dasa Gaatra Pinda Dana Shraddh is Performed during ten days beginning from the day of death, Ekadashah on the eleventh day and Sapindan on the twelfth day.

Complete info about Shraddh Paksh / Pitru Paksh

Shraddh and Tarpan Karma:

There are various types of Shraddh performed in Sanatan Hindu religion. Those are as follows:

1. Nitya 2. Naimishik 3. Kramya 4. Vriddhi

5. Sapind 6. Parvan 7. Goshtha 8. Suddhyartha

9. Karmang 10. Daivik 11. Aupacharika 12. Samvatsarik Shraddh.

Samvatsarika (Annual) Shraddh is performed on the death anniversary every year.

The abode of the Pitris, (Ancestors) are called Pitri Loka. The Gujarati people spell and pronounce Pitri Loka as Pitru Loka.The word Pitri (Pitar) belongs to Indo-Latin group of languages that means father. The departed soul takes many months to reach Pitri Loka. Relatives of departed soul perform Shraddh to help him or her in the journey to Pitri Loka. The ceremony is called Pret Kriya. Hence a Shraddh is a Pitri-Yajnya or worship of departed ancestors. The son of a diseased person performs Shraddh for the attainment of salvation of his father or mother. He also performs it for immediate three generations of his ancestors.

The belief is so strong among the Hindus that they believe one can not attain salvation or even a place in heaven without a Shraddh performed by his son. Hence, there is a tremendous notion to have at least a son. Many Hindus used to marry a second time if they would not have a son with the first wife.

They believe that soul can not rest in peace and undergoes painful experiences without Shraddh. Hindus feel it duty help their ancestors attain salvation by performing Shraddh.

Tarpan and Ganga Snan on Mahalaya

Tarpini- An Hindu woman performing Tarpan in Kolkata on Mahalaya day.
Tarpini- An Hindu woman performing Tarpan in Kolkata on Mahalaya day. | Source
Mass Bathing in River Ganga - Ram Chandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Kolkata.  Picture taken on the last day of Pitri Paksh.
Mass Bathing in River Ganga - Ram Chandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Kolkata. Picture taken on the last day of Pitri Paksh. | Source

Idea and philosophy behind Shradhh and Tarpan

Performer of Shraddh offers Kusha (sacred grass), Pushpa (flowers), Tandula (Rice) and Jaladhara (sprinkle of water). It is believed that performance of Shraddh and Tarpan (libations of water) relieves the hunger and thirst of the departed soul during its journey to the Pitri Loka. It is also told that Shraddh not only liberates the ancestors but it benefits the performers too.

(However, the idea is not supported by the Upanishads, the ultimate philosophical scriptures of the Hindus. Instead of popular belief, It is not supported by the theory of Karma).

Ancestors are pleased and bless with prosperity, wealth, and happiness to the performer. Mantras of the Sam Veda are chanted during Shraddh. It must be performed with faith and devotion. Shraddh and Tarpan show gratefulness of a person to his ancestors.

Non-performing is believed as ungratefulness.The sacred scriptures warn the non-performing son that he would lead a miserable life and suffer from poverty. Hindu Puranas are full of details about Shraddh, especially Agni Purana, Garuda Purana and Matsya Purana. It is Yama, the god of death in Hindu mythology, who explained the importance of Shraddh performed on Pitri Paksha (Pitru Paksha).

Durga Pooja, India

Durga Puja ( Durgotsava or Sharadotsav) is a Hindu festival to worship goddess Durga. The festival covers all the days i.e. Mahalaya (beginning of the Devipaksha), Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami (also known as Du
Durga Puja ( Durgotsava or Sharadotsav) is a Hindu festival to worship goddess Durga. The festival covers all the days i.e. Mahalaya (beginning of the Devipaksha), Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami (also known as Du | Source

Shraddh Paksha: Pitri Paksha

Days between Ashwin Krishna Pratipada ( the Amavashyaday after full moon) to AshwinaAmavasya(no moon day) according to Hindu or Vedic calendar are called Shraddh Paksha or Pitri paksha (Pitru paksha). It is also called Kanagat. Pitri Paksha Shraddh reaches the ancestors immediately and provides their souls rest and peace according to Hindu mythology. The Shraddh Paksha falls between September 4 and September 18, In 2009.

In Pitri Paksha, Vasu Rudra and Agni (gods) act as intermediaries between the relatives performing the rituals of Shraddh and the ancestors and carry the food offered . it is believed that the ancestors bless those performing Shraddh. People failed to offer annual Shraddh perform it in Pitri Paksha. Pitri Paksha Shraddh is also offered to childless relatives, unknown ancestors and victims of accidental deaths. Ashwin Krishna Amavasya, the last day of the Shraddh Paksha is very significant for Hindu rituals. It is called Mahalaya Shraddh.

The customs and rituals during Pitri Paksha vary place to place and person to person. Some people observe specific customs like fasting on the day or being vegetarian. Abstaining from shaving and cutting hair is a popular ritual for these days.

Generally, a priest performs the rituals of Shraddh in a sacred place like a river bank. Though illogical, Hindus believe that Shraddh cleanses sinful acts of diseased. Departed souls are said to wander aimlessly on Earth if not received offerings of Shraddh.

Restrictions in Shraddh Paksha

Traditionally, the Hindus do not perform any auspicious activities during these days. They do not commence any business, do not engage or marry and do not buy anything long lasting such as gold, Jewelry or a house. They do not start building a house or go to a new house and even try not to travel during these days. Hindus have 16 Sanskar to be performed in their lives. These are restricted during Shraddha.

Some people believe that these days are inauspicious. However, this is a wrong notion. People worship Pitri (Pitar) in these days so these days cannot be inauspicious. Shopping is not restricted in Pitri Paksha opposite to popular belief. Sewing and using soap and oil is restricted only on the day of performing Shraddh.

Navaratra (Navaratri) begins with the end of Shraddh Paksha. The Hindus observe this for nine days. It is believed that Navaratra is among most auspicious days of the year.

Do you think Shraddh liberates departed soul?

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Update: Shraddh Paksh is going on this time

Shraddh Paksha (Pitri Paksha) is going on nowadays. It will continue up to October 7, 2010, and Navratri will start from October 8.

Hindu people are paying homage to their ancestors this year like always. They will worship Devi Durga on Navratri.

What is your opinion about this article? What do you feel about this? I would like to hear from you. Your valuable suggestion will improve the quality of the hub. Please feel free to comment on this hub. Your comments are valuable for me and other readers.

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Auspicious dates and time for Tarpan and shopping in Shraddh Paksh, 2014

There are nine days in this Pitri Paksh that are considered to be very good by the Vedic astrologers. There will be Sarvarth Siddhi Yoga on the whole day of September 11, 2014, and will continue till Evening of 12th. This is the best Muhurt for doing anything. Raviyoga will be from 7 to 8 PM on 13th. Tripushkar Yoga will be starting from 6.49 PM on 14th September and will remain for half an hour. There will be Ravi Yoga after that.

September 15, 2014, will be an excellent day for both shopping and Tarpan. There will be Sarvarth Siddhi Yoga on the whole day along with Raviiyoga till 8.30 in the night. This Muhurt will be followed by Amrit Siddhi Yoga that will continue until next morning.

There will be Kumar Yoga on the 17th night from 12.40 till morning) It will be AM of 18th according to western system of calculating time.There will be Sarvarth Siddhi Yoga on the whole day and Amrit Siddhi Yoga with Pushya Nakshatra will be from 3.15 AM till sunrise (morning of 19th September 2014). Sarvarth Siddhi Yoga will continue from 5.32 to the next morning.

(According to Jaipur, India time, may vary with time zone.)


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    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 19 months ago from Jaipur

      Dear Neelam Jain, Jainism do subscribe to rituals but not the "Pitru Paksh". Everyone has to face the consequences of "Karma Bondage" and none other than oneself can get one out of one's Karma.

    • profile image

      Neelam Jain 2 years ago

      The article was informative. However, I am looking for information on pitru paksha in jainism. Jainism doesn't subscribe to rituals, so how is it viewed?

    • profile image

      Krishna Dwivedi 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the information !

    • profile image

      vikram 6 years ago

      why arent such things followed in other countries?? why is our country , our system so complicated, why are we governed by so many rules which seems so illogical ...

    • profile image

      pradeep sastry 6 years ago

      This article is written wonderfully. Its for all.

    • profile image

      asghujh 6 years ago

      this is tati

    • profile image

      truemitra 6 years ago

      You are a wonderful Author !

    • profile image

      raviji 7 years ago


      My comments are as a community worker:

      Thanks for a wonderful article on Pitri; information on pitri paksha, shradha etc is scant; this article helps. Pitri paksha is being eroded, especially amongst Hindus outside India; the subject area seems to be in exile and foreboding... the rituals long, complex and forebooding for most people...and thegender bias makes it vilnerable especially in a time when it is the women who are the main upkeepers of the traditions.

      I think however, it is precisely because it is obscure, mysterious, forboding, concentrated for a fortnight and laced with unusual rites that it has potential to rise to a powerful cmmunity happening.

      Simplicity, communality, bhaava and relevance based on desh, kaal paristhithi etc and creative inspiration could bring Hindus together in the name of our ancestors and their world view

      raviji - Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

      Is there a simple mantra that can be used to make tarpan and shraddh offerings?

    • profile image

      Beev 7 years ago

      Extremly useful and well written, I am glad to stumble upon this blog/article.

      can you tell us where to find especially Agni Purana, Garuda Purana and Matysa Purana... I would like to read them.

    • profile image

      Suraj Nowlakha 8 years ago

      Thanks for a very good write up with full information........

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India


      You are great in exposure of the cultural tradition of India to make India great in the external World. Thank you.

    • Kevin Peter profile image

      Kevin Peter 8 years ago from Global Citizen

      India is a wonderful country ,with lots of religious festivals and rituals

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi readers,

      Festivals of India: Shraddh Paksh: Pitri Paksh is my second hub in the series festivals of India. I hope this will help knowing India better. Have you enjoyed it?

      Please feel free to comment.


      Jyoti Kothari