Shraddha is a Hindu ritual that refers to remembering and honoring one's ancestors. It is believed that the act of charity, feeding the hungry, and performing the shradh rites help in the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. The shraddhas are believed to be highly significant during the first year of death because they provide the spirit with force, allowing it to rise to a higher dimension.
Shraddha meaning: What is Shraddha (Shradh)? and why is Shraddha done?
The Sanskrit root word "Shradh," which means faith or trust, gives the term "Shraddha" its meaning. It is a religious act performed with all sincerity and faith to satiate one's ancestors.
What is Dagbatti?
The Hindu ritual after death is called Dagbatti (Daagbatti). This ritual is performed to help the soul of the deceased person transition to the next life. The ritual includes prayers, offerings to the gods, and a feast for the mourners.
Daagbatti Rituals: How is Daagbatti Perfomed?
- After the death of a Hindu, the body is usually cremated within 24 hours, known as daagbatti.
- The daagbatti ritual is performed by the family of the deceased person. A priest is not required to perform this ritual.
- The deceased person's body is washed and clothed in plain white sheets. The body is then placed on a bier and taken to the cremation ground.
- The body is placed on a pyre and set on fire at the cremation ground. The family then performs a series of rituals, which includes offering prayers and condolences for the mourners.
- After the cremation, the family collects the deceased person's ashes and scatters them in a river or ocean.
- The daagbatti ritual is performed to help the soul of the deceased person transition to the next life. The ritual includes prayers, offerings to the gods, and a feast for the mourners.
- The family then performs a series of rituals over 13 days, known as the Kriya ritual (Kriya karma), which the family's son usually does.
- On the first day, the family members shave their heads (particularly boys) and wear white clothes.
- The person who performs Kriya for 13 days (Kriya Putri) stays separate from the regular household, stays clean, and holds rituals for the deceased person.
- During the period, close friends and relatives visit the deceased's family and convey condolences.
- They often bring fruits during their visit.
- On the thirteen (last) day, the family members hold a puja for the deceased, and the family members and the Kriya Putri take a holy dip in the river and perform rituals. They offer prayers to the gods and goddesses for the peace of the soul of the deceased person. A feast follows this in honor of the deceased.
- After the Kriya period is over, the family members start their regular life, but they perform Shraddha (Shradh) every month for one year to pray for the soul of their deceased relative.
- This is followed by performing the Shradh ritual once every year on the person's death anniversary (Tithi).
The importance of Shraddha in Hindu culture
According to Hindu beliefs, Shraddha Ceremony is a crucial ritual and is usually a day of memory. Rituals and ceremonies are performed to honor one's ancestors, particularly the departed parents. The purpose of the Shraddha ceremonies is to make the passage for our parents to heaven, after their death, as comfortable and stress-free as possible. It is believed that the ancestors' souls are freed from their earthly bonds, and they attain moksha. It is a way of expressing thanks for who they are and asking for the lost parent's peace.
Shraddha Rituals: How to perform Shraddha rites? What are the rituals of the Hindu Shraddha ceremony?
Shraddha rites are performed by the first-born son of the family (Karta). It is considered a duty of the son to perform this ritual to ensure that his ancestors' souls rest in peace.
The Shraddha rites are performed to appease the ancestors and ensure their souls rest in peace. It is believed that the ancestors visited their descendants during this period, and it is important to offer them food and water so that they are satiated and do not trouble the living.
The ritual involves performing a series of prayers, offerings to the gods and goddesses, and feasting and remembering the deceased.
There are various steps or ways that are included in the Shraddha ritual. These include the following steps as mentioned below.
It is a very important rite as it is believed to satiate the deceased. Rice balls are made by taking a handful of cooked rice and shaping it into a ball. A small quantity of water is added to the rice to bind together. Once the rice ball is ready, it is placed in front of the ancestors' shrine or photo along with some flowers and a light (diyo). The rice ball is then offered to the ancestors, and their souls are believed to be satisfied.
Another rite is the use of Tarpana. Tarpana is a process whereby water is offered to the ancestors with the help of a copper vessel and some flowers. The tarpana rite is believed to purify the soul of the ancestors and help them attain moksha.
The Shraddha rite is believed to liberate the soul of the ancestors from their earthly bonds. The whole process is performed in front of a fire.
Karta performs the fire ritual Hawan (Home) to appease Agni, which will carry the offerings to the departed loved ones.
The Karta also gives Dakshana (donations) to the Brahmanas to promote hospitality and obtain blessings.
How can we do Shradh at home?
There are various ways in which Shraddha can be performed at home. The most important way is to keep the ancestors' shrines clean and tidy. Offerings of food and water should be made in front of the shrine. It is also important to light a diyo (lamp) and pray to the ancestors.
Remember the ancestors and say their names aloud. This is believed to bring peace to their souls.
Shraddha can also be performed by feeding the needy and poor in their name. This act of charity is believed to please the ancestors and help in the liberation of their souls.
What to do if you can't perform all the rituals of the Shraddha Ceremony?
If for whatever reason, one cannot perform the Hindu shraddha ceremony rituals due to a lack of time or other unforeseen circumstances, one may throw sesame seeds into flowing water and then offer sesame to Brahmanas. This procedure is regarded as auspicious.
During this time, feeding animals and birds is a good deed. Cows and crows are fed during Pitru Paksha. Donating things like food, utensils, and clothing aids in completing homage ceremonies.
What should be avoided in Shradh?
- During the period of Shradh, it is important to
- Avoid non-vegetarian food, as it is considered impure.
- It is also important to avoid alcohol and gambling.
- One should also refrain from cutting nails and hair, as it is believed to cause pain to the ancestors' souls.
- Another thing to avoid during this time is wearing black clothes, which are considered inauspicious.
- It is also advisable to avoid starting any new ventures during this time, as it is believed that they will not be successful.
- One should also avoid getting married during the period of Shradh.
What can I donate to Shradh?
Various things can be donated during the period of Shraddha. These include:
- Dry fruits
- Food items – Rice, wheat, sugar, etc.
- One can also donate money to the needy and poor in the name of their ancestors.
This act of charity is believed to please the ancestors and help in the liberation of their souls.
Shraddha ceremony food: What can I cook in Shradh?
There are various food items that can be cooked during the period of Shraddha. These include:
- Rice and Daal
- Vegetarian dishes
- Fruit dishes
- Sweet dishes (Rice Puddings; Kheer)
It is important to avoid non-vegetarian food, as it is considered impure.
What is Pitru Paksha Shradh (Sora Shradha)? Importance of Pitru Paksha Shradh
The Pitru Paksha is a 16-day period in September/October when Hindus pay homage to their forefathers, and Shraddha is often carried out during this time. Hindus in India and Nepal observe Pitru Paksha. This is done by offering food and prayers to their departed loved ones. The starting day of Pitru paksha is "pratipada" (first day).
The Karta carries out the shraddha ceremonies, which include inviting the Brahmanas and feeding them. Three generations of people are honored, and all rituals must be done with devotion and respect for the deceased.
In conclusion, the Shraddha ceremony is a very important Hindu ritual that should be performed with sincerity and devotion. It is a way of paying respect to one's ancestors and showing them how much they are loved and missed. This ceremony is also a way of liberating their souls from the cycle of birth and death.
Things needed for Shraddha
Here is the list of things needed for Shraddha
- Banana leaf
- Betel nut and leaf
- Bhringaraj leaves
- Black Gram
- Black sesame or til
- Cooked rice
- Darbha or Kusha grass – ring of darbha and the grass spread as seating
- Sandalwood paste
- Til mixed with water
- Tulsi leaves
- Uncooked rice or barley
- White and yellow flowers (red and other colorful flowers are not used in Shradh)
- other general puja samagri
In some regions, people cook the favorite food of the dead person.
Can daughters do shradh?
Anybody, irrespective of their gender can perform the shradh rituals. However, it is traditionally carried out by the family's first-born son.
Can you get married during Shradh?
It is advisable to avoid getting married during the period of Shradh.
What is the best day to do Shradh?
The best day to carry out the shradh rituals is on the "tithi" (lunar day) of the deceased. If this is not possible, then any inauspicious day can be chosen.
Can we cut hair in Sharad?
It is advisable to avoid cutting nails and hair, as it is believed that this will cause pain to the ancestors' souls.
Can we celebrate birthday in Shradh?
No, birthdays should not be celebrated during the period of Shraddha.
What is shraddha ritual ceremony?
As per the religion of Hindus, on Shraddha, rituals, and ceremonies are performed to pay homage to one's ancestors, especially the lost parents.
How is annual Shraddha performed?
Annual Shraddha is performed by offering food for the pithrus and thus receiving their blessings.
Can we eat egg in Shradh?
No, one should avoid non-vegetarian food as it is considered impure.
What should Hindu family eat after death?
Hindus refrain from eating meat, practicing a strict satvik vegetarian diet after the death of their close ones.