We have so many religions in the world propagated by people of different originations, thoughts, countries and ethnicity. They all have distinct ways of learning and worshipping the God, the one who created the Universe. All these believers irrespective of their genders and caste follow rituals mentioned in their holy books or taught to them by the religious godmen.
Among all the big religions existing in the world viz; Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, the Sanatan or religion of Hindus is the oldest one. Hinduism is thousands of year old religion. It says all the creatures in the world in any forms are the aatma (souls) and they are the part of paramaatma (the God).
Relevance of Shradh
This is why Shradh or Sraddha Paksha holds a great importance for Hindus. It’s a fortnight-long period where the kins and relatives of the departed soul offer them food and organize pooja for them. It’s considered that certain rituals during the Shradh help the soul getting liberation from the worldly matters.
Basically, Shradh means showing Shraddha or respect for our ancestors. The fifteen day period of Shradh Paksh gives an opportunity to people for paying homage to their beloved who left the world. To offer them the obeisance, folks call upon Brahmins and pandits for their homes. The Brahmins chant various hymns and mantras for bringing peace to the departed soul. After that, people offer the prasadam (pious food) to the religious pandits or Brahmins. Post that they are given new clothes and other essentials. The reason behind this is, it’s considered whatever food or essentials are given to them directly reaches to the ancestors. All of it helps them to sustain and attain mukti or getting the next birth in the human race.
As per the several Hindu Puranas and religious texts, it’s believed that a soul has its food and water only during the new moon and Shradh Paksha. Rest of the time, whatever we may offer does not reach in that sense. So, to relieve the soul of the ancestors once and for all people visit Gaya. It’s a place in Bihar where people offer ‘pind’ to the souls or Pitra (soul which is not liberated). Certain religious rituals are performed that accumulate hymns, worships, dakshina (donating materialistic things). Special mantras are chanted in the presence of the relatives of the pitra.
It’s believed that doing so in Gaya for the ancestors are extremely fruitful for families. It not just provides eternal peace to the soul, but also brings prosperity to the people who perform for their forefathers.
Beliefs during Shradh
There’s a tradition that people do not perform or start any auspicious work during the Pitru Paksha. They try to maintain celibacy during the period and do not donate certain things. Also, folks refrain from purchasing new things during this time. They focus on getting rid of bad omen by doing away with their pitra dosh. People feed fresh food to cows and help the needy ones during the occasion.