Mahalaya Amavasya

Mahalaya Amavasya 2011 –  [Sept 13-27]

Mahalaya Amavasya or Pitra Amavasya is the new moon day of Pitra Paksha or Mahalaya Paksha, the fortnight which is especially sacred for offering Tharpanam to the departed ancestors. It is believed that performing Tharpanams  during the auspicious Mahalaya Paksha will bless your ancestors and will free them from all their sins.
Mahalaya Amavasya Tarpanam
Each day in the Mahalaya Paksha is ruled by a particular Tithi  and the benefits of offering Tharpanam on each day are different. Mahalaya Amavasya is the last day of theMahalaya Paksha , which is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites and on this day people donate food, clothes etc.

Donating Food during Mahalaya Paksha
The easiest way to access God's grace is to feed a  human being starving for food. Donating food is considered to be the greatest charity of all the charities and it is believed that whoever donates food will attain an 'elevated status'. There is an interesting legend highlighting the importance of donating food from the great epic Mahabharata.

The renowned hero of the Mahabharata, Karna, was a great philanthropist and he never said no to anyone who approached him for help. He had donated huge wealth and had done all kinds of charity, except for donating food.

Karna left the earthly curl after his death and reached heaven. The great charity which he had done on the earth plane was returned to him hundredfold here, but it was all material wealth and no food at all. He then realized that although he had done all kinds of charities, he did not donate food. He prayed to the God of Death, who sent him back to earth for 14 days, to make up for this deficiency.

Karna fed the Brahmins and poor and offered oblations of water during the 14 days, which are observed in the Mahalaya Paksha. On his return to Heaven, he had plenty of food and it has been anticipated that offerings made during the period of Mahalaya Paksha benefits all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.

Charity in the form of food is important during this observance. Life depends upon food. You cannot preach religion to empty stomachs. This human body is the most important vehicle for realising God. How precious must food be which keeps the body fit for Yoga! The gift of food is the greatest gift. Therefore, give food in plenty, not only during the Mahalaya fortnight but all through the year.

Mahalaya Paksha: Seek the Blessings of  the  Ancestors

Great enlightened beings, who have turned their body into light, visit the earth daily in their light form. Our departed ancestors also come and stay on this earth plane for 15 days in a year in our body, mind and soul and can change all these 3 positively. Even Gods cannot do what these ancestors can do for you; in fact, Gods ask you to go through your ancestors for blessings.

Offering Oblations to the departed ancestors
on Mahalaya Amavasya
These auspicious 15 days, Mahalaya Paksha in 2011, starts from September 13th night, right after the full moon and ends on September 27th, the Mahalaya Amavasya night. This two week period is the most important period to appreciate your departed ancestors.  

The fifteen days of Mahalaya Paksha consists of 15 Tithi. They are Pratipat, Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shashti, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadasi, Dvadasi, Trayodasi, Chaturdashi, Newmoon day [Sarvapitru Amavasya]. According to Hindu mythology, every individual's who wants to perform this Pitru Tharpanam, they should do it on the same day of their ancestor died which will fall within any one of these fifteen days.

Observing Rituals on Mahalaya

Rituals and offering oblations to the souls of the departed ancestors, ends on Mahalaya day. Durga Puja rituals also commence on Mahalaya day.

" If shrardham thithi falls in this period [From Purattasi to Karthigai] one should not do malaya tharpanam in the malaya paksham and should perform the Mahalaya Paksham on the next day to Shrardham " .

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Things not to do during Pitra Paksha period.

During the period of Pithra Paksha, traditionally people do not buy or wear new clothes, and don't get a hair-cut. The day they perform the ritual, male members of the family do not even shave. Women do not wash their hair on that particular day. Auspicious works like marriage, settling marriage, any kind of birth ceremony etc. are prohibited during this period

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