Thai Amavasai is the New Moon day falling in the Tamil month Thai.
Amavasya or Amavasai is a sacred New Moon day considered appropriate for performing many religious activities. This refers to the lunar phase Amavasai thithi and is regarded especially sacred for offering prayers to our ancestors.
Thai is an extremely auspicious Tamil month. This starts around the 14th or 15th of January and extends till mid-February. The advent of the month also marks the beginning of the 6-monthly period Uttarayan, which itself is regarded as sacred. As per our scriptures, Uttarayan corresponds to the daytime of the Devas, the celestial beings, when they become active and propitious. This period follows the preceding half-year of Dakshinayan, considered the night time of the celestials. The first day of Thai, which also happens to be the opening day of Uttarayan is celebrated variously as Makara Sankranthi, Pongal, etc.
Thus, Thai Amavasai assumes the significance of being the sacred day falling during the auspicious month of Thai and also coming as the first New Moon day of the holy Uttarayan period. Then, what better occasion can there be for remembering our ancestors and performing austerities in their memory?
The special occasion of Thai Amavasai 2020 falls on 24th January this year.
It is said in the holy texts that the ancestors, known as the Pitrus, are ever eager to visit their children and descendants and give them their love and affection in the form of blessings. And on the day of Thai Amavasai, Yama, the God of death grants them their wish, so that the departed souls can visit the earth plane. The souls of the ancestors, accordingly, come down to earth in their subtle and invisible forms, riding the carriage of the Sun God, duly escorted by Yama's attendants. Hence it becomes imperative for their heirs to welcome them, show their gratitude, and offer respects. This is the requirement of Pitru Dharma and is done in the form of ceremonial worships and austerities like tarpanam etc. on the Thai Amavasai day. This will please the ancestral souls immensely and make them shower their grace on their descendants. This can help us to get protection against dangers, and clear all evils and misfortunes from our lives, and bestow all-round benefits to us and our families.
Thai Amavasai Pooja
Our holy texts have repeatedly stressed the importance of propitiating the forefathers and performing austerities and worships in their memory and honor. Thai Amavasai Pooja is the worship done to achieve this purpose. There are guidelines laid down by the scriptures for its performance, and these are known as the Thai Amavasai Pooja Vidhi. There are also what are known as the Thai Amavasai Pooja Katha, in this regard. These are puranic stories that highlight the importance of offering prayers to ancestors on Thai Amavasai days, give anecdotes from the Puranas, and state the benefits that can accrue on people as a result. These may also stress the need for observing the Thai Amavasai Pooja Vidhi and specify the grace that may come down on account of reading or listening to the Thai Amavasai Pooja Katha, during the occasion.
In such ancestral worships, 'Tarpanam' plays a very significant role. The word 'Tarpanam' can refer to the 'contented mind.' This is a ceremony performed in memory of the departed ancestors, where oblations are offered to them in the form of rice, water, and sesame seeds, amidst appropriate rituals and the chanting of the relevant, sacred mantras. It is ideal to perform this worship under the guidance of learned people, and in holy places or on the banks of rivers or water bodies.
It is also said that in case people are unable to do the ceremonial tarpanam due to unavoidable reasons, they can offer items like rice, vegetables or fruits, clothes, and some money to the needy, treating them as the living representatives of the forefathers. People can also feed creatures like the crow and offer 3 hand-full of water to the Sun God, who is known as Pitru Karaka.
People can undertake ancestral worship on Thai Amavasai 2020 falling on 24th January and get immense blessings, in the form of all-round wellbeing.