Amavasya, an Introduction
The New Moon Day is called Amavasya or Amavasai. The Sanskrit word ‘Ama’ means ‘together’ and ‘Vasya’ is ‘to dwell’. There is a cycle of 30 lunar phases as per the Vedic calendar and each of them is called a Thithi. The Thithi of the dark Moon, when the Moon is not seen in the sky, is referred to as Amavasya Thithi or simply as, Amavasya. As per the Hindu lunar calendar that is widely used in India, a lunar month starts on Pournami/Purnima or the full Moon day, and Amavasya falls in the middle. Amavasya is considered auspicious for various activities, especially for worshipping the ancestors.
Thai is the 10th month of the Tamil Calendar, which corresponds to mid-January–mid-February and is regarded as a very auspicious one. It begins on the sacred Uttarayana day, when the Sun starts on its northward journey in the celestial sphere. It is on the same day that the important festival of Pongal is also celebrated.
Significance of Ancestor Worship
On death, the souls get separated from their bodies, and start their heavenly journey and reach Pitru Loka, the land of the ancestors, where they stay before taking their next births, which the destiny has in store for them. When they reside in Pitru Loka, they would feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Unable to eat or drink anything on their own in their body-less state, they would be in acute need for suitable offerings from earth, their earlier place of stay, to quench their cravings. The responsibility of making such sacred offerings amidst the chanting of appropriate mantras in the form of holy rituals is laid on the descendants of the ancestors. Their ritualistic offerings made with faith and love, would reach and satisfy the ancestors completely, and the pleased ancestors, shall then shower their blessings on their living children and descendants.
Significance of Thai Amavasya
Thai Amavasya is the first Amavasya which falls in the sacred Uttarayana period and hence, is held as even more auspicious for performing various rituals dedicated to the ancestors. Non-performance of such austerities is believed to bring us bad luck and can become the cause for Pitru Dosha or ancestral curse. People, therefore, choose this particular occasion for performing ceremonies to propitiate the departed souls and receive their blessings.
Rituals of Thai Amavasya
People remember their ancestors with gratitude on this day, offer them Thithi and do rituals like Tarpanam (ancestral rituals), Thila Homa (Fire Lab with sesame seeds) and Pinda Dhanam. It is considered especially sacred if such Shraddha (death rites) ceremonies are performed in holy places, pilgrim centers, seashores and on the banks of sacred rivers or water bodies. Hence, people in large numbers flock to places like Haridwar, Prayag Triveni Sangam (Allahabad), Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari and other well-known River Ghats to perform various rituals in memory of the departed souls and seek their blessings. They also do various kinds of charities.
Benefits of Observing Thai Amavasya
Propitiating ancestors on the sacred day of Thai Amavasya can bestow you with the following benefits:
- Absolve Pitru Dosha (ancestral afflictions)
- Solve relationship issues
- Bestow with health, wealth, success, peace and happiness blessings