‘Bhadrapad Krushna Paksha is Pirtupaksha (The dark fortnight in the Hindu Almanac month of Bhadrapad), when some rituals are performed for the ancestors from Bhadrapad Pratipada to Amavasya. During this period, everyone should perform Mahalaya Shraddha to satisfy all pitars (Departed ancestors) and obtain their blessings.
1. Importance of performing Mahalaya Shraddha in Pitrupaksha
During Pitrupaksha, all the pitars of the ancestry come to their descendants in anticipation of food and water. Since the Pitruloka (Region of departed ancestors) is closest to the Earth, the food, water and Pindadan to the pitars reach them quickly. As a result, they get satisfied and bless the family.
Performing Shraddha removes the obstacles in spiritual practice due to Pitrudosh (Karmik debt of the ancestors) and aids spiritual practice.
2. Steps to take if performing Mahalaya Shraddha
in Pitrupaksha is not possible as prescribed on the background of coronavirus pandemic
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are restrictions at some places to perform the Shraddha ritual as per Scriptures. In such a situation, following is what our Scriptures say about performing Shraddha.
2A. Performing ‘Aamshraddha’
Katyayana says, “In adverse times, in the absence of the wife, at a pilgrim place, on the day of Sankranti perform Aamshraddha”. If it is impossible to perform the complete Shraddha ritual due to some reason, ‘Aamshraddha’ can be performed. Place food grains, rice, oil, ghee, sugar, potatoes, coconut, 1 betel nut, 2 betel leaves, etc. in a plate, according to your financial position. Place gandha, akshata, a flower and a Tulsi leaf on it while reciting ‘Amannasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’. Donate it to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it to a Veda Pathashala (School where Vedas and Sanskrut are taught to children in the traditional Gurukul style), Goshala or a temple.
2B. Performing ‘Hiranya Shraddha’
If ‘Aamshraddha’ too cannot be done, perform ‘Hiranya Shraddha’ with a resolve, meaning, place money according to your financial position in a plate. Place gandha, akshata, a flower and a Tulsi leaf on it while reciting either of the mantras ‘Hiranyasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’ or ‘Dravyasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’. Later donate it to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it to a Ved Pathashala, Goshala or a temple.
2C. Feeding a cow
Those who cannot perform ‘Aamshraddha’ should feed a cow. Wherever it is not possible to feed a cow, people should contact the nearest Goshala and donate some money to feed the cows.
After performing ‘Aamshraddha’, ‘Hiranya Shraddha’ or feeding a cow, perform til-tarpan (Offering sesame seeds and water). Take water in a glass and put some black sesame seeds in it. Now, tilodak is ready. Later, pronounce the names of the departed ancestors and offer the tilodak through the gap between thumb and index finger of the right hand. To perform til-tarpan.
If you do not know the name of a departed ancestor but you know that ancestor, remember him and perform til-tarpan. Normally, a priest recites mantras while performing these rituals and we act accordingly.
If a priest is available, perform rituals in his presence. If not, perform rituals mentioned in this article with bhav (Spiritual emotion).
If it is not possible to perform any of the above mentioned rituals, at least perform til-tarpan.
2D. What to do if nothing of the above is possible?
Those who cannot do any of the above, they can donate to a spiritual organization.
3. Prayer to be made while performing the Shraddha ritual
Pray unto the Holy feet of Shri Datta Guru – ‘I have performed ‘Aamshraddha’ / ‘Hiranya Shraddha’ / til-tarpan (Mention the ritual you have performed) as per the Scriptures in the current situation. May the pitars receive food and water through this ritual. May the pitars be satisfied with these offerings. May their grace be upon us. May we receive blessings of the pitars for our spiritual progress. May the pitars obtain further momentum due to Your grace’.
If the current situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic changes and things return to normal, perform complete Shraddha rituals (along with pindadaan) in the usual manner.
– Shri. Damodar Vaze (Chief Guide, Sanatan Sadhak-Purohit Pathashala, Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Goa.)