The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is a microcosmic representation of life, He arrives to the sounds of drums, spreads happiness, and as He, the Sukh-Karta, Dukh-Harta departs, taking with him our worries and wishes, he leaves us teary-eyed and feeling a little empty. We transition straight into a period of gratitude for our ancestors, to whom we owe our existence, as we mark Pitra Paksha.
It is believed that during this fortnight, our ancestors return to earth to spend time with their erstwhile earthly families, hence the tradition of offering tarpana to the departed souls and in addition to offering a meal to your family pandit, food is also offered to crows and cows, who hold a special place in Hindu tradition. It is a sombre time of remembrance in memory of those that have passed, and giving our thanks for their sacrifices and contributions which afford us the lives that we lead today.
The tradition is to perform the Shradha ceremony on the tithi in this fortnight that matches the day of the ancestor’s passing. It is also advisable to perform this ceremony on the actual lunar tithi and Hindu month of the ancestor passing, therefore two occasions in the year when you can pray for the peace of their soul. If the date of their passing is not known, then the ceremony can be observed on the last day of this fortnight, which is also called Sarva Pitri Amavasya.
Donations and arranging meals for the deprived is also practised during this period. One may also support underprivileged families to honour their ancestors during this fortnight through donation in kind or providing economic assistance.
It is believed that performing the Shradha ceremony is essential for the mental and physical well being of the present and future generations. If you are experiencing unexplained turbulence and hardships in life, despite your best efforts, then it may be prudent to ensure that you honour your ancestors during this period, so that their blessings are with you in your endeavours.
Any significant new purchases and celebrations of any kind are also generally avoided during this period. Sobriety gives way to celebration once again with the advent of the Mother Divine (Devi) on Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Navratri or the nine nights of the Goddess.