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Śrāddha or Shraaddha is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith (shraddha). In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s 'ancestors' (Sanskrit: Pitṛs), especially to one’s dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are. It also can be thought of as a "day of remembrance." It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on the days they became deceased.
In practice, the karta (person who performs shraaddha) invites Brahmanaas (individuals who are considered to be very noble, worthy, knowledgeable, etc.) that day, imagines they are his/her parent, performs a homa, serves them with sumptuous food,and treats them with all hospitality and finally serves “pinda pradaana”. (pinda--balls made of rice, given as offerings to the pitR^i). The Karta then gives "dakshina"(fees) to the brahmanaas. (There are various other actions done,to show respect to the Brahmanaas,like washing their feet, etc., during the course of shraaddha).
Since this is one of the most important and noble “Saṃskāras” (rituals meant to cleanse the mind and soul) that the Hindu sages have envisaged, it is imperative that the performer of the ritual understands what he or she is doing. Only then will the true intent of the ritual be fulfilled and the performer of the ritual feel completely gratified. Else, the ritual becomes just a mechanical exercise for one’s part.
In Hindu amanta calender ( ending with amavasya ), second half of the month Bhadrapada is called Pitru Paksha: Pitripaksha or Shraddha paksha and its amavasya ( new moon ) is called sarvapitri amavasya. This part is considered inauspicious in muhurtshashtra ( electional astrology ). At this time ( generally September ) crops in India are ready and the produce is offered as a mark of respect and gratitude( by way of pinda )first to the ancestors be they parents or forefathers before other festivals like Navaratri begin.
- Shraaddha, R. K. Srikanta Kumaraswamy, IIT, Chennai. In the Kannada language