Mahalaya Amavasya/Pitru Moksha Amavasya/Pitru Amavasya/Sarvapitri Amavasya is an important day for Hindus. This day is for remembering and honoring their deceased ancestors or Pitrus.
Mahalaya Amavasya falls in Ashwin month (September-October).
It is the last day of the 15-day Pitru Paksha period or ‘fortnight of the ancestors’. It is a most auspicious day, and people can perform Shraddh for their deceased ancestors on this Amavasya regardless of the Hindu calendar tithi.
What Is Mahalaya Amavasya?
Mahalaya Amavasya is the new moon day in the 15-day period for honoring ancestors, called Mahalaya Paksha. Hindus consider it to be the most important fortnight to appease their ancestors. Mahalaya Amavasya is one of the best days to perform ancestral rituals like Shraddh and Tarpanam for deceased family members.
If you don’t know the death anniversaries of your ancestors, you can perform their Shraddh rituals or Pind daan on this day.
Hindus observe Mahalaya Amavasya to ensure that deceased ancestors attain Moksha and bestow their blessings on their descendants.
By performing rituals to appease ancestors on Mahalaya Amavasya, we can express gratitude to them for the life they have given us. Every generation has contributed something to the generations that followed it. It is essential to remember their contributions and thank them.
According to Hindu scriptures, if one does not observe the Shraddh for one's ancestors during the first 15 days or the death date is not known, then one can perform the ‘tarpan’ for them on the day of ‘Sarvapitra Moksha Amavasya’. On Mahalaya Amavasya day, our ancestors are believed to visit our homes, and if we fail to perform Shraddh for them, they will return to Pitru Loka unhappily.
If our ancestors commit any sins, it can reflect in their children’s horoscope as ‘Pitra Dosh’. Due to this, the children may face many problems in their life. Also, the souls of these ancestors cannot attain salvation and wander restlessly in search of peace.
But if one performs the Shraddh rituals on Mahalaya Amavasya, the ‘Pitru Dosh’ can be removed, and the deceased soul can get Moksha. The ancestors also bless their family abundantly in return. The Shraddh rituals performed on this day are as sacred as those observed in Gaya, the holy city which is famous for such rites.
The Myth Behind Mahalaya Amavasya
Most religious traditions are based on myths and legends that explain their origin and significance. One can find the origin story of Mahalaya Amavasya in the Mahabharata epic.
Karna was a friend of Duryodhana, the Kaurava prince. But he was the stepbrother of the Pandava princes, though they were not aware of it. He was the son of Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas and the Sun God.
After Karna died in battle, his soul reached heaven. He was hungry and thirsty, but instead of food and water, he was offered gold and other jewels. Bewildered, Karna asked Yama, the God of death, for an explanation.
Yama replied that Karna had donated gold and jewels to people during his lifetime, but he had never offered food to his ancestors. Karna said that he did not know who his ancestors were, and so he could not offer Taparnam to them. So, Yama allowed him to return to earth for 15 days and offer Shraddh or Taparnam to his ancestors.
After offering water and food to his deceased ancestors and performing the ancestral rituals, Karna returned to heaven. Hence, these 15 days are celebrated as Mahalaya Paksha or Pitru Paksha, when we offer food and water to our ancestors to please them and receive their blessings.
Benefits of Observing Mahalaya Amavasya
Performing Shraddh and Tarpanam for deceased ancestors during Mahalaya Amavasya will bring the following benefits:
∙ It can appease restless souls and offer them salvation or Moksha.
∙ Ancestral blessings can resolve many life problems related to money, health, relationships, and career.
∙ One will be blessed with good fortune and prosperity.
∙ Removes Pitru Dosh and bad karma.
Rituals of Mahalaya Amavasya
All the deceased family members who expired on Amavasya, Chaturdashi, or Purnima are offered Shraddh or Tarpan on this day. One should observe the following rituals on this day:
∙ One should wake up early and finish the ablutions.
∙ The eldest male member of the family should wear yellow clothes and invite a Brahmin to the house.
∙ The person should wash the Brahmin’s feet and offer them a clean place to sit with sesame seeds sprinkled on the floor. There is a specific place to sit- Matru Paksha Brahmin should face towards the north, and Deva Paksha must face the east.
∙ Worship the Pitrus or ancestors with Diya, dhoop, flowers, barley, and water. All this is done to please them. Offer a splint as a donation.
∙ The one who performs the ritual should wear a sacred thread on their right shoulder.
∙ After completing the ritual, the food prepared by the household members is offered to the Brahmin.
∙ Mantras are chanted to invoke the ancestors’ blessings. The family members should offer an apology while praying for their peace.
Dos and Don’ts for Mahalaya Amavasya
∙ To eliminate Pitru Doshas and bad karma, one should offer Shraddh or Tarpan to the deceased ancestors.
∙ Performing Shraddh can remove karma that prevents the deceased soul from attaining Moksha.
∙ Perform a Pooja to help your ancestors attain salvation.
∙ Offer water to the peepal tree to get ancestral blessings.
Mahalaya Amavasya 2023 is on October 14, a Saturday.