When should the Shraddha be performed?

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1. In general appropriate dates for performing shraddha

Normally, no moon night, 12 sankrants in a year, solar-lunar eclipses, Yugadhi and Manvadi dates, Ardhodayadi parva, date of death, arrival of Shrotriya priests (Brahmins) etc dates are considered appropriate for performing shraddha.

2. Hindu Dharma does not give any chance to anyone to say that the shraddha was not performed due to non-feasibility in a particular period!

  • Normally every year Shraddha should be performed on the date of death of the person (as per the Hindu calendar and not as per the English calendar.) If the date is not known and only the month is known, then in that case the shraddha can be performed on the no moon night of that month.

  • If both, the date as well as the month is unknown then the shraddha can be performed on the no moon night of the Hindu calendar month of Magh or Margashirsha.

  • If the definite date of death is not known then the shraddha can be performed on the date when the news of the death was received.

  • Shraddha for deceased ancestors’ souls should be performed everyday and it can be achieved just by offering water (tarpan) to them.

  • If it is impossible to perform Shraddha daily, then Darsha Shraddha should be performed. This fulfills the requirement of doing the Shraddha daily. Darsha means no moon night. Therefore Darsha Shraddha is the one, which is performed on the no moon night of every month.

  • If it is not possible to perform Darsha Shraddha every month, one should at least perform it on the no moon night of Hindu calendar months of Chaitra, Bhadrapad and Ashwin months.

  • If it is not possible even to perform Darsha Shraddha on no moon nights of Chaitra, Bhadrapad and Ashwin, then at least the ritual of Mahalaya should be performed in the Pitru fortnight of the month of Bhadrapad. If this too is impossible then Shraddha should be performed on the no moon night of the month of Bhadrapad (sarva pitri amavasya) (11)

(Hindu Dharma has kept so many provisions to act in a righteous manner. In spite of this, Hindus do not perform Shraddha and other rituals. Then who will help such Hindus? – Compiler.)

3. Appropriate time of the day

If the day is divided into 5 parts, then the fourth part is called the ‘Aparanha’ period. This period is most appropriate for performing shraddha.

(Reasons for ‘Aparanha’ period and no moon night being the most appropriate time for performing shraddha are described under the point 7 in volume 2).

4. Special dates for performing Shraddha and the benefits derived after performing shraddha for deceased ancestors’ souls on these dates

4.1 Kalpadi date (tithi): Lord Brahma’s day is considered as the day of origin. This is also called as Kalpadi tithi. The 1st and 5th day of Chaitra, 3rd day of Vaishakh, 7th day of Kartik, 9th day of Margashirsha, 13th day of Magh, 3rd day of Falgun (all days from the bright fortnight) indicate the start of the era (kalpa). As per the science, if shraddha is performed on these dates, the deceased ancestors’ souls get satisfied.

4.2 Akshayya Trutiya (3rd day within the bright fortnight of Vaishakh): Akshayya Trutiya indicates the start of the Kruta era. The benefits derived by performing rituals like Shraddha, Tarpan for deceased ancestors’ souls and donations on this date is everlasting. Therefore one should at least perform Apinda Shraddha or Tarpan for their deceased ancestors’ souls.

The holy texts of Puranas say that, on the day of Akshayya Trutiya one should donate uncooked food (aamanna), a water pot, a fan made of mint grass, an umbrella, footwear etc with the intension of offering them to the deceased ancestors’ souls. It is mentioned in Garud Puran that, once the donations are made with the intention of offering them to deceased ancestors’ souls on this day, the messengers of Lord Yama do not cause distress to the ancestors’ souls.

यमदूता महारौद्राः करालाः कृष्णपि्ङःगलाः ।
न पीडयंति दाक्षिण्याद्वस्त्रा भरणदानतः ।।

Meaning: When clothes and ornaments are donated, the dark, brown eyed, cruel messengers of Lord Yama having sharp and long teeth do not cause distress to the deceased ancestors’ souls.

4.3 Pitru fortnight (Pitrupaksha) (Mahalaypaksha)

4.3.1 Importance

1. The dark fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad is called as ‘Pitrupaksha’. This fortnight is very dear to the deceased ancestors’ souls. If Mahalay Shraddha is performed for the deceased ancestors’ souls during this fortnight, they remain satisfied for the entire year.

2. श्राद्धं कन्यागते भानौ यो न कुर्याद् गृहाश्रमी ।
धनं पुत्राः कुततस्य पितृकोपाग्निपीडनात् ।।
यावच्च कन्यातुलयोः क्रमादास्ते दिवाकरः ।
शून्यं प्रेतपुरं तावद् यावद् वृश्चिकदर्शनम् ।।
– Mahabharat

Meaning: The householder who does not perform shraddha during the period when the Sun is in the Virgo sign, how will he earn money and be gifted with a baby boy as he would have enraged the deceased ancestors’ souls? Additionally, the abode for deceased ancestors’ souls remains vacant till the Sun moves from Virgo and Libra sign to the Scorpio sign.  The abode for deceased ancestors’ souls remaining vacant during this period implies that the deceased ancestors’ souls come closer to their descendants for blessing them and if Shraddha is not performed, they give curse to their descendants and return. Due to this it is important to perform Shraddha during this period.

4.3.2 The deceased ancestors that arrive at the occasion of Mahalay Shraddha

1. Father, grandfather, great grandfather (Pitrutrayi)10. Maternal uncle
2. Mother, grandmother and great grandmother (matrutrayi)11. Brother
3. Step mother12. Father’s sisters
4. Mother’s father, grandfather and great grandmother (matamahatrayi)13. Mother’s sisters
5. Mother’s mother, grandmother and great grandmother14. Sisters
6. Wife15. Father-in-law
7. Sons16. Other relatives
8. Daughters17. Guru (if the Guru-disciple relationship exists)
9. Paternal cousins18. Disciple (if the Guru-disciple relationship exists)

Reference: Shraddha (importance and scientific explanation) – Volume 1

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