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.’
One of the most beautiful Indian festivals is Rakshabandhan.
This festival is about the special and pious bond, to celebrate the brother-sister relationship.
When the siblings are growing up together at their parents home, it is always about fun, sweets, gifts etc.
But, as we grow older, it’s unlikely the brother-sister will remain in the same city, or may be in the same country.
Yes, life takes the siblings to different directions, due to education, work, career, even marriage.
It’s then that the festival of Rakshabandhan becomes an emotional festival.
The sacred thread, which the sisters tie on the wrist of their brothers, to wish them happiness, prosperity, good health and all good wishes, can’t be done in the same way, as it was done in their childhood days.
So, there is a practice to send the colourful and auspicious Rakhis in envelopes, via post, or couriers, or even online.
That little small sacred thread, called Rakhi is symbolic of the pure and true love and the special bond, which the brother and sister share with each other.
If the brother is married, a special and beautiful Rakhi is also included for the sister-in-law.
Perhaps, it’s only in Indian culture and traditions, that the brother-sister relationship is celebrated in this beautiful manner.
Birthdays are special days, and we make sure that the birthday person feels happy and special. Spending time with family and friends, with good food, gifts, birthday wishes, music, dance and what not!
Then there are various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and others, which are flooded with birthday wishes.
Then there are phone calls, video calls and other advanced technologies to make you feel special and happy for your special day.
All this sounds so good, and the birthdays are really special nowadays.
However, when I was younger, and there was no social media, birthdays were celebrated by visiting the temples, receiving blessings from the elders of the family, new clothes, having sweets or some delicious homemade food and all that.
Those were days of joint family system and there were so many people within the family, that there was no need to go outside or invite others.
It was always a celebration time.
After my marriage, my father, mother, grandfather always sent me letters (handwritten, of course) on the occasion of my birthdays.
Those letters are my precious possessions, even now.
Rice kheer and sweets were a must for prasad on birthdays, but cakes were optional.
Well, now I prepare all the delicacies— the auspicious and traditional kheer, Laddoos, and of course cakes, because it’s always good to carry on and combine the traditions with modernity.