Bhubaneswar: Mahalaya holds great religious and spiritual significance in Hindu culture, particularly as a day dedicated to honoring one’s ancestors and forefathers. This occasion is also referred to as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitra Moksha Amavasya, or Pitru Amavasya. It marks the conclusion of the 15-day-long Shraddha rituals and is set to be observed on October 14, 2023, falling on the Amavasya Tithi during the Ashwina Month.
Significance of Mahalaya Amavasya:
Mahalaya Amavasya holds immense religious importance within Hinduism. It is a day when people offer prayers to their ancestors, also known as Pitru. Various rituals are performed during the Pitru Paksha period for the well-being and prosperity of one’s forebears. It is believed that by conducting Pitru Tarpan and Pind Daan on the final day of Pitru Paksha, ancestors attain salvation and are freed from the cycle of birth and death.
Hindu scriptures mention that if an individual is unable to perform Shradha for their ancestors during the first 15 days or forgets the date of a death anniversary, then they can perform ‘tarpan’ on the day of ‘Sarvapitra Moksha Amavasya.’ This is the day when all ancestors return to their realm, known as Pitru Loka. If these rituals are not conducted, the ancestors return unhappily and may curse their descendants, leading to what is known as Pitra Dosha.
According to astrology, the mistakes or unresolved matters of the ancestors can affect their descendants’ horoscopes as ‘Pitra Dosh.’ This can result in various problems and obstacles. These unsettled souls do not attain salvation and continue to wander. Hence, it is recommended that people perform Shradha, Pitru Tarpan, and Pind Daan on the day of Amavasya to ensure their ancestors find peace in Lord Vishnu’s abode. Those who conduct these rituals help their ancestors return to Pitru Loka joyfully, blessing their descendants with good health, wealth, and prosperity.
The Invoking of the Goddess
Mahalaya signifies the day when the Devi Mahatmya, a sacred text honoring the goddess, is chanted to invoke the presence of Goddess Durga. This is seen as a spiritual call to welcome the divine mother and seek her blessings and protection.
Remembering the Ancestors
Mahalaya is also observed as a day for paying tribute to one’s ancestors. Families perform a ritual called “Tarpan” where they offer water and prayers to the departed souls. It is believed that their blessings and guidance are vital for the upcoming festivities.
The Unleashing of the Chandi Path
The Chandi Path, a recitation of verses from the Devi Mahatmya, takes place on Mahalaya. It narrates the tale of the fierce battle between Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. This narrative sets the stage for the Durga Puja festival.
Rituals for Mahalaya Amavasya:
- Begin the day by waking up early and taking a purifying bath.
- Cleanse your home and offer Arghya to the Sun.
- Prepare pure, sattvik food at home and invite a male and a female Brahmin.
- Seat the Brahmins on the floor and perform the Tarpan ritual.
- Before offering the food to the Brahmins, feed cows, dogs, ants, and crows.
- After completing the rituals, the male head of the family should provide food, clothing, and dakshina (monetary offering) to the Brahmins.
- Once the Brahmin bhoj (meal) is concluded, all family members can partake in the food.