Every year, the Hindus observe a 16-day period, beginning the last full moon day of the Hindi calendar month of Bhadrapad, to perform Pind Puja (popularly known as Shraadh) for their ancestors. The period is thus, called Pitra Paksh or Shraadh period. It is believed that this is done to pay respect and homage to their ancestors.
The Shraadh Puja is done on the death anniversary of the ancestor for whom it is to be performed and the proper Satvik food is prepared to honor the departed soul. It is believed that one may face difficulties if he doesn’t perform the Shraadh of his ancestors. While if a person performs it with full devotion, the ancestors bless him with all the comforts of life and safeguard him and his preceding generations from Pitr Dosh.
As per the legend, Kunti Putra Karn, also known as Danveer Karn performed numerous charitable deeds in his life, be it jewels, currency, land, clothes, etc. The only thing he never got a chance to offer in charity was food. Thus, when he died and ascended to Pitra Lok, everything that he gave in charity came back to him in multifold. But he didn’t get any meal. He actually had to starve for days and later requested Yamraj to give him an opportunity to offer food in charity to the needy. It was then Yamraj granted him 14 days return to earth and do the needful charity. He performed numerous meal-charities during these days, and when he returned, there was abundant food for him to satisfy his hunger. These 14 days are considered to be a part of Shraadh Period and it is believed that whatever we donate during this period, comes back to us in multiples.
During the Shraadh period, people follow many rules and customs as a sign of respect for their ancestors.
Let Us Have A Look At What All One Should Avoid Doing During The Sacred Shraadh Period:
1. Refuse Food Or Water To Anyone, Never To A Stranger Even:
It is believed that during the Shraadh period, your ancestors visit your home. They may even come in disguise and thus, you should never ever refuse anyone food or water, even if they are a stranger to you!
2. Hurt Animals, Especially Crows And Dogs:
Though one should never hurt animals, it becomes all the more a sin to hurt animals during the Pitra Period. Animals, especially, crows and dogs, are offered the Pitra prasaad after the Shraadh, and that is why one should take extra precaution not to hurt these animals during the Pitra Paksh.
3. Consume Meat, Meat Products, Hard Drinks & Tobacco:
Consumption of any kind of meat or meat products or even egg is strictly prohibited during the Shraadh period. One should also abstain consuming hard drinks and products containing tobacco. Even the use of onions and garlic is prohibited, only pure saatvik food should be taken during this period. However, with time, many people don’t consider it to be important and thus, don’t follow this anymore.
4. Cut Your Nails Or Shave:
Pitra Paksh people is somewhat considered to be a ‘mourning period’ when we remember our loved ones, you should avoid any grooming activity. Cutting your nails or hair or shaving your beard should be avoided.
5. Buy New Clothes, Jewelry, Cars, and Property:
Hindus believe that buying clothes, jewelry, cars or property is a sign of happiness and celebration, and thus, they refrain from buying these things. Even if they buy these things before the Pitra Paksh period, but it still lies unused, they refrain from using it for the first time during this period and wait for Navratra to use those items.
6. Keep Auspicious Functions:
Auspicious activities like marriage, settling marriage, any kind of birth ceremony etc. should not be kept during this period.
7. Eat at Other’s Place:
It is believed that eating as guests at other’s place during the shraadh period will transfer the host’s Pitr to the guest. This eventually attaches the host’s pitr with the guest and he eventually falls in ‘salt-debt’ of the host, which can only be balanced by performing a remedial puja.
Thus, these are the things that one should avoid doing during the shraadh period. Shraadh is a very important ritual of the Hindu tradition and if performed with whole devotion, makes the ancestors satiated. They, in turn, bless their offspring with health, wealth, and all the pleasures of a wonderful life.