PITRI PAKSHA 2019: Homage to Forefathers
This is the time of the year when the world of the living and that of the dead (pitri loka) are more linked and in which a bridge is opened to connect with them in the deepest and most direct way.
¿What is Pitri Paksha? This fortnight is focused on expressing gratitude and receiving blessings from our ancestors (Pitri). Each culture has different ways of honoring and remembering them, and in India it is done through this celebration: Pitri Paksha or Shraaddha (expression that means any act performed with total sincerity and faith). It is a time to express our gratitude to our ancestors for facilitating our existence and allowing us to be who we are. We are here for them, they became the channel to bring us here, to give us the opportunity to exist and continue working with our karma and we must thank by paying tribute to them and recalling their importance. This Philosophy believes in karma and reincarnation. The exchange of this ritual consists, on our part, of giving them “light” wherever they are and in the shape they are, because this can only be done by human beings who are still alive and, from their side, they can bless and unlock us certain karmas.
¿When does it take place? Vedic Philosophy takes into account the lunar calendar to establish its festivities, and Pitri Paksha is fixed, during this time of year, the first day in Full Moon (September 13th) and the last in New Moon (September 28th), with a total length of 16 days.
¿Why 16 days? To take into account all the lunar phases (16) from the Full Moon to the New Moon. To pay tribute to a specific loved one during this time, we make the ritual the day the phase of the Moon is matching his/her death.
The last day is called "Sarva Pitri" (September 28th) or the day of "all ancestors" and is the most important one. It is established for those who do not remember the lunar phase of the the specific ancestor, did not have time to do so on the right day or simply want to revere all their ancestors in general.
¿What can we do during these days? In the Hindu tradition, to ensure that in each family at least one of its members commits during their lifetime to venerate all the ancestors of the family, the oldest man is chosen to take this responsibility. However, since these guidelines are not followed in Western culture, it can be done by anyone who wishes to connect with their forefathers on behalf of the family. We should do, through love and gratitude, acts of altruism such as donations (every time we do it we have to think about them). We connect with them through our thoughts and intentions. On the last day, during Sarva Pitri, we can meditate while performing “Mantra Japa” or consecutive repetitions of a specific mantra through a “mala” or Hindu rosary made up of 108 beads. We should take into account all the members of the three generations before us who have died: parents (2), grandparents (4) and great-grandparents (8), as well as an extra round for the rest of family members who have passed away. The mantra for the ancestors is: "OM PITRIBHYO NAMAHA". All these spiritual works related to the ancestors (Pitr) are always done facing south, direction of death. We must always start with an intention (Sankalpa): Why do I do it?
More important than all this is to receive the blessings of our parents, in case they are still alive, because they are the direct link between us and our ancestors and we must give them, if possible, even more attention during these days.
We have to understand the importance of commemorating and reverencing those whom we depend on and those we needed to exist and helping, in turn, with our remembrance and faith, that their soul be at peace and follow their path to enlightenment, because only the people still living can boost that energy. Thus, we keep their essence alive and maintain a connection of gratitude and love. And in this way, with this homage and reverence, we continue creating awareness and value the importance of our family and how determining they were for us to be here with the gift of life. Therefore, these are also days of expressing our gratitude to them and getting their blessings.
"All life is the result of energy and thus, we have a choice as to what energy we use in what we do, say and how we think"