Thai Amavasai is regarded as one of the most auspicious occasions for remembering our ancestors and worshipping them.
‘Amavasai’ Day and ‘Thai’ Month
Amavasya or Amavasai is the New Moon day. The Sanskrit word ‘Ama Vasya’ carries the meaning ‘to dwell together.’ Our traditional month is divided into 30 lunar phases, known as the thithis. Such a thithi of the dark Moon, when the Moon is not visible in the sky, is called Amavasai thithi or just as Amavasai. The month as per this traditional calendar begins on Pournami, the Full Moon day, and extends till the next Pournami. The Amavasai falls right in the middle of such a month. Amavasai is considered most appropriate for various activities and is held as especially sacred for propitiating the forefathers.
‘Thai’ is a Tamil month that stands for ‘good times.’ It marks the beginning of the sacred Uttarayan when the Sun starts on its northward journey. The first day of Thai is also observed as Makara Shankaranthi when harvest festivals are celebrated in many parts of the country. Pongal is one such grand festival, celebrated in Tamilnadu. Regarded as highly propitious, this month extends from mid-January to mid-February.
The sacred Amavasai that falls during the auspicious month Thai is known as Thai Amavasai. Thai Amavasai 2020 falls on 24th January this year.
On death, the souls of the living beings leave their bodies, start on their heavenly journey and reach Piru Loka, the land of the ancestors, where they are believed to stay before taking the next birth. Here it is said that they will be feeling the pangs of hunger and thirst. In the body-less state that they are in, they will not be able to eat or drink anything and hence will be in acute need of suitable offerings from the earth, their earlier place of stay, for quenching their cravings. It becomes the responsibility of their descendants to make such offerings amidst the performance of sacred rituals and the chanting of appropriate mantras. These ritualistic offerings made with faith and love, are believed to reach the ancestors and satisfy them fully. And the pleased forefathers will then shower their blessings on their living children and descendants.
Significance of Thai Amavasai
Thai Amavasai happens to be the first Amavasai of the sacred Uttarayan period and hence is held as all the more suitable for performing the ancestral rituals. Therefore, the Thai Amavasai Pooja done with sincerity and devotion on this day is sure to earn for the performers and their families, the immense blessings of the ancestors, and good tidings. And it should be cautioned here that failure to observe these austerities can bring ill luck and become the cause for even Pitru Shaap, the ancestral curse. People, therefore, choose this particular occasion for offering prayers and performing ceremonies for propitiating the departed souls and getting their grace.
Thai Amavasai Pooja
People offer prayers to forbears on that occasion by observing the Thai Amavasai Pooja Vidhi, the laid down procedure for the ancestral worship. This may include the offering of thithis to ancestors and the performance of rituals like Tarpanam, Thila Homam, and Pinda Daanam. It is considered especially sacred if such Shrardh ceremonies are performed in holy places, seashores, and on the banks of holy rivers or water bodies. Hence people in large numbers flock to places like Haridwar, Prayag Triveni Sangam (Allahabad), Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, and other well-known holy places and perform various rituals, by observing the Thai Amavasai Pooja Vidhi. They perform poojas in memory of the departed souls and offer worship, seeking their blessings. People also read or listen to the Thai Amavasai Pooja Katha on that occasion. Thai Amavasai Pooja Katha is a sacred text, compiled from the scriptures. It deals with the subject in great detail and highlights aspects like the necessity, significance, and benefits of Thai Amavasai worship. After fondly remembering their forefathers with gratitude on this day, people also do charities and give donations.
Benefits of observing Thai Amavasai
Propitiating ancestors on the sacred Thai Amavasai can bring various benefits to the faithful. They can get absolved of Pitru Dosh, solve relationship issues, and get relieved of unwanted desires. They may also be blessed with health, wealth, success, longevity, peace, happiness, and welfare of children. The ancestors, too, can be liberated from their curses, so that they can start their new lives with a clean slate.
On the occasion of Thai Amavasai 2020 on 24th January, people can take the support of their spiritual guides or family elders and offer worship to their ancestors and receive immense benefits.