<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is always valuable to know your roots. Indians are known for our grand celebrations whether it’s our wedding, birthday, Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Biswakarma Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. We always look for excuses to celebrate any occasion.For the uninitiated, an auspicious period is beginning under the Hindu calendar – Pitru Paksha Shraddh. It is an occasion to pay respects to our ancestors. The 16-days fest started from September 5 and will end on September 19 this year. It is believed that it is during this time our ancestors come down to bestow their blessings upon us. It is the season to pay an ode to those deceased relatives and our forefathers. It is believed Shradh rites help liberate our souls from the circle of life and death.Shradh and its significanceAccording to Hindu mythology, the souls of our previous three generations reside in ‘Pitru Loka’, which is known as the realm between heaven and earth. This realm is headed by the god of death, Yama. It is believed when It is believed that when a person from the next generation dies, the first generation is taken to heaven bringing them closer to God. Only the last three generations in Pitru-Loka are given shradha rites.Before we dive into the rituals of the festival, let us go back to the times even before stone age existed where Gods’ way was the high way.Hindu scriptures during Mahabharata said when Karna died his soul was taken to heaven. Karna, known to be a charitable person, donated gold to the needy ones all his life. When he was sent to Heaven, he was only offered gold and jewels. However, Karna was looking for food to eat and so went on to talk to the lord of heaven, Indra, to enquire about the matter. This is when Indra told Karna that all throughout his life he had donated only gold to his ancestors during shradh, but never food. Soon realising his mistake, Karna said he never knew his ancestors and so he couldn’t decide what to donate in their memory. And Karma was given a chance to amend his mistake and was granted to enter earth to perform shradh rites where he could donate food and water in their memory. Now, this 15-day period was named as Pitru Paksha.Puja ritualsThe puja ritual is usually performed by the eldest son of the family. The ritual is performed after he showers and wear a ring made of ‘kush’ grass. The kush grass is used to invoke ancestors. Pind Daan, the ritual of offering rice, sesame seeds and balls made from barley flour is performed. While performing the holy ritual, three things should be kept in mind – piety, hastiness and anger. Two Brahmins are offered new pair of clothes, fruits, sweets and ‘dakshina” (donation), as part of the offerings. The offerings or the ‘daan’ is believed that whatever is given to the Brahmins it reaches our ancestors. The ritual is believed to keep away any negative shadows and bring happiness to our family. So, let’s celebrate this holy occasion to keep our friends, family, relatives close to our heart and take a moment to bow down to our ancestors who made it possible for us to live a wonderful life!Dates to remember05th September – Purnima Shraddha06th September – Pratipada Shraddha07th September – Dwitiya Shraddha08th September – Tritiya Shraddha09th September – Chaturthi Shraddha10th September – Maha Bharani, Panchami Shraddha11th September – Shashthi Shraddha12th September – Saptami Shraddha13th September – Ashtami Shraddha14th September – Navami Shraddha15th September – Dashami Shraddha16th September – Ekadashi Shraddha17th September – Dwadashi Shraddha, Trayodashi Shraddha18th September – Magha Shraddha, Chaturdashi Shraddha19th September – Sarva Pitru Amavasya

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Shradh 2017: Significance, puja vidhi, dates; all you need to know