“Akshay Vat”, The Banyan Tree at Gaya, Bihar, India ©Chitrangadasharan

Pitri Paksh or Shradh Paksha is a sixteen day period in the Hindu Calendar, when Hindus pay homage to their Pitrs (ancestors.)

According to the Hindu beliefs and traditions, the Ashwin Krishna Paksha in the Hindu calendar is dedicated to those ancestors, who have left for their heavenly abode.

And, it’s the religious duty of their family— sons, daughters and other close family members , to offer ‘Tarpan’ to the ancestors, so they achieve ‘Moksha’ or Salvation.

Besides ‘Tarpan’, various kinds of ‘daan’ (offerings) is also given, in the form of food, clothes, other essentials, or money.

‘Tarpan’ is performed on the same ‘Tithi’ when the ancestor had passed away, whether it was Krisna Paksha or Shukla Paksha, in any month.

‘Tarpan’ can be performed, by chanting mantras, guided by the pandit (priest) or by self, near river banks, temples, or even at homes.

But, for the final ‘Pind Daan’ there are many religious places assigned for this.

‘Teertha Sthal Gaya’ situated in the state of Bihar, India is considered to be the most revered and auspicious place for ‘Pind daan.’

The above picture is of the ancient and pious Banyan tree at Gaya, which has a deep religious significance.

The mighty Banyan tree is also called, ‘Akshay Vat’, which literally means, which can’t be destroyed.

The devotees believe in tying the sacred red thread, on the vast and widespread branches of the supporting roots, trees, all around the Banyan tree, for the fulfilment of their wishes, and to seek the blessings of the departed elders of the family.

Pitri Paksh ends on ‘Sarv Pitri Amavasya’, and immediately the ‘Matri Paksha’ or ‘Mahalya’ begins, followed by ‘Navratri.’

©Chitrangadasharan