Pitru Paksha is a 16–day lunar period in the Hindu calendar which spans over the month of Bhadrapada and Ashwin. In this period, Hindu families pay homage to their ancestors by offering food and water (tarpan). Pitru Paksha 2021 will begin on September 20 and end on October 6. It is believed that by performing the act of Tarpan during Pitru Paksha, families can help their forefathers and ancestors to get rid of the cycle of rebirth. The end of Pitru Paksha and the beginning of Devi Paksha is marked by Mahalaya.
According to the Hindu calendar, this year the Pitru Paksha is starting from the full moon day of Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month and will end on the Mahalaya amavasya, the last day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin month. By performing tarpan during Pitru Paksha, Hindus help forefathers and ancestors’ souls to get salvation and complete liberation.
The legend about Pitru Paksha is mentioned in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. According to the mythological stories, Karna died and went to heaven on the 17th day of the Mahabharat war. There he was offered jewels, gems and diamonds as food. He went to Lord Indra to know the reason behind this. Lord Indra told him that all his life, he donated jewels, gems and diamonds in charity and never offered food to his ancestors. Hearing this Karna repented and wanted to rectify his mistake.
Karna was granted a 15-day period to visit the mortal world and offer shraaddh to his ancestors. After coming back to earth, he offered water and food to his ancestors before returning to heaven again. From that day, the period came to be known as Pitru Paksha.
Hindus believe in the concept of life after death. They perform shraaddh every year for their departed ancestors. Shraaddh and Pind Daan are organized every year to ensure the salvation of the departed souls.
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