( as prescribed by our scriptures on the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic )
Bhadrapad Krushna Paksha isPirtupaksha(The dark fortnight in the Hindu Almanac month of Bhadrapad), when some rituals are performed for the ancestors from Bhadrapad Pratipada to Amavasya. During this period, everyone should performMahalaya Shraddha to satisfy all pitars (Departed ancestors) and obtain their blessings. This year pitrupaksha period is from 21st September to 6th October 2021. Like last year, this year also in some places due to the corona pandemic, there may be limitations on performing this shraddha ritual asusual. However in this adverse situation we can understand what steps needs to be taken if performing of Mahalaya Shraddha in Pitrupaksha is not possible as prescribed by our scriptures on the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic. This article by Sanatan Sanstha explores the various acts of Dharma that one can follow even during such times.
1. Importance of performing Mahalaya Shraddha in Pitrupaksha
During Pitrupaksha, all the pitars of the ancestry come to their descendants in anticipation of food and water. Since the Pitruloka (Region of departed ancestors) is closest to the Earth, the food, water and Pindadan to the pitars reach them quickly. As a result, they get satisfied and bless the family.
Performing Shraddha removes the obstacles in spiritual practice due to Pitrudosh (Karmik debt of the ancestors) and aids spiritual practice.
2. Steps to take if performingMahalaya Shraddha inPitrupakshais not possible as prescribed by our scriptures on the background of coronavirus pandemic
On the current background of the coronavirus pandemic, there are restrictions at some places to perform the Shraddha ritual as per the scriptures. In such a situation, following is what our scriptures say about performing Shraddha.
A. Performing ‘Amashraddha’
Katyayana says, “Perform ‘Amashraddha’ during adverse times in the absence of the wife at a pilgrim centre and on the day of Sankranti”.
If it is impossible to perform the complete Shraddha ritual due to some reason, perform ‘Amashraddha’. Place food grains, rice, oil, ghee, sugar, potatoes, coconut, 1 betel nut, 2 betel leaves, etc. in a plate according to your financial position. Place gandha, akshata, a flower and a Tulsi leaf on it while reciting ‘Amannasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’.
Donate it only to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it to a Veda Pathashala (School where Vadas and Sanskrut are taught to children in the traditional Gurukul style), Goshala or a temple.
B. Performing ‘Hiranya Shraddha’
If ‘Amashraddha’ too cannot be done, perform ‘Hiranya Shraddha’ with a resolve, meaning, place money according to your financial position in a plate. Place gandha, akshata, a flower and a Tulsi leaf on it while reciting ‘Hiranyasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’ or ‘Dravyasthit Shri Mahavishnave Namaha’. Donate it to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it only to a Veda Pathashala, Goshala or a temple.
C. Feeding a cow
Those who cannot perform ‘Amashraddha’ should feed a cow. Wherever it is not possible to feed a cow, people should contact the nearest Goshala and donate some money to feed the cows.
After performing ‘Amashraddha’, ‘Hiranya Shraddha ’ or feeding a cow, perform til-tarpana (Offering sesame seeds and water). Take water in a glass and put some black sesame seeds in it. Now, tilodak is ready.
Later, pronounce the names of the departed ancestors and pour water between the thumb and index finger of the right hand to perform til-tarpana (See image on left).
If you do not know the name of a departed ancestor but you know that ancestor, remember him and perform til-tarpana. Normally, a priest recites mantras while performing these rituals and we act accordingly.
If a priest is available, perform rituals in his presence. If not, perform rituals mentioned in this article with bhav (Spiritual emotion).
If it is not possible to perform any of the abovementioned rituals, at least perform til-tarpana.
D. What to do if nothing of the above is possible?
Those who cannot do any of the above, they can donate to a spiritual organization.
3. Prayer to be made while performing the Shraddha ritual
Pray unto the Holy feet of Shri Datta Guru – ‘I have performed ‘Amashraddha’, ‘Hiranya Shraddha’ or til-tarpana (Mention the ritual you have performed) as per the Scriptures in the current situation. May the pitars receive food and water through this ritual. May my pitars be satisfied with these donations. May their grace be upon us. May the blessings of pitars be obtained for our spiritual progress. May the pitars obtain further momentum due to the grace of Shri Datta Guru’.
During Pitrupaksha since the Pitruloka is closest to the Earth, thefood, water and Pindadan to the pitars reach them quickly !
If the current situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic changes and things return to normal, perform Shraddha rituals in the usual manner.
However, wherever it is possible to perform Shraddha rituals in the usual manner, we can perform the same in this pitrupaksha period.