Hindus believe that ‘Pitra Paksha’ rites liberate a soul from the vicious circle of life and death and helps it in attaining salvation. The Shraddh during Pitra Paksha involves oblations to three preceding generations by taking their names and also by taking name of the family tree or Gotra.
These rites are performed by the current generation to repay the debts of ancestors. It is said that ancestors (Pitrs), gods (Devas) and ghosts (Pretas) when propitiated-bestow health, wealth, wisdom, longevity and eventually salvation.
If Shraddh is performed with whole devotion, the ancestors bless us with comforts of life. It is imperative for Hindus to perform Shraddh to safe-guard oneself and preceding generations from Pitra Dosha (Meaning: the set of misfortunes resulting in people’s lives due to the curse given by the departed ancestors. Pitru dosha can bring about several crisis situations in the family and cause severe restlessness). If Pitra dosha is present in chart native himself and his family members may encounter various problems like-Inability to get married, Marital concerns, infertility, problems in begetting child, loss of Job and finances, critical health concerns, etc.
While performing Shraddh, one should pay special attention to three things – piety, control over anger and avoiding hastiness. Meditation, mantra repetition and prayer are done for the peace and attainment of salvation by the departed soul.
Bhramins are offered food, new clothes, sweets, fruits and dakshina (offerings), for it is believed that whatever is given to the Brahmins reaches the departed souls. Birds and other animals are also fed during the period of Shraddh.
In addition one can also do Mahadaan (Meaning: a Sanskrit word that connotes the virtue of generosity, charity or giving. It can take the form of giving to an individual in distress or in need. It can also take the form of philanthropic public projects that empower and help society, including animals)
The Mahadaan offerings give relief to the ancestor and additional this bestows positive luck to descendants. The Blessings by Pitra’s can greatly help the individual to progress in life and his/her problems are reduced to a great extent. It is believed that if Shraddh is performed with whole devotion, ancestors feel satiated and they bless the person with wealth, children, knowledge, joys, pleasures and a total fulfilling life.
The following rituals are performed daily during Shraddh:
Hindus prepare pure vegetarian food, including the favourite food of their ancestors. Prayers are said to pay respect and offer moksha to departed ancestors’ souls, and then this food is offered to a Brahmin first, and also offered to birds and other animals with water, after which the family have their meal.
Hindu Council UK