Shraadh, the Hindu ritual of paying homage to ancestors concludes

November 14th, 2007 - 1:59 am ICT by admin  
Thousands of Hindus arrived on the banks of Hooghly River, a tributary of the holy Ganges, to pray for the salvation of their ancestors.

After taking a dip in the waters, they offered “pind” or rice balls, each depicting a dead relative to priests who are believed to be the representatives of God on earth.

“Sita (consort of Lord Rama) performed the ‘pind daan’ ritual for the salvation of Dashrath on this day by offering her hair. Lord Rama had to perform this ritual in Gaya (Bihar) but he did not manage to get all the traditional items required to perform the ritual,” said Sudarshan Pathak, a priest.

“And since the auspicious and scheduled time was about to finish, Sita came to his rescue and offered him her hair. Lord Ram carried out the ritual using her hair. Hence, today is all the more important for us,” added Pathak.

Many devouts also shaved off their head as part of the ritual. It is believed that observing this ritual is essential for the ultimate salvation of the forefathers.

Today is the last day of ‘Mahalaya’, the day pious Hindus do ‘Tarpan’ - making offerings of rice balls to the chant of shlokas (religious hymns) so that their ancestors rest in peace in heaven.

“During the Mahalaya (fortnight sacred for offering oblation to departed ancestors) period we have this Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight). On this day, we offer our prayers for the salvation of our ancestors and parents who are no more. We believe that the ritual will help our ancestors stay happily in heaven,” said Baishakhi Nath, a devotee.

According to the Hindu almanac, “Mahalaya” marks the conclusion of “Prit Paksha” or the fortnight of ancestors and heralds “Devi Paksha” or the fortnight-long festival of Hindu goddess Durga.

The ritual literally means that departed souls are relieved of all sins and given to divine care.

People offered flowers, fruits and burnt incense sticks amidst chanting of hymns and they also offer alms to beggars who come in large number.

Some people also give alms, as they believe any good deed on this day brings prosperity.

Many Hindus believe in reincarnation. It is believed that a body changes with every birth but the soul remains the same.

The Hindu philosophy says that this cycle can be broken and soul can be put to rest forever by performing “pind daan”.(ANI)

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