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Importance of Mahalaya

The 15 days period from Bhadrapada Pournami i.e full moon day after Ganesha Chaturthi to Aswayuja Amavasya (moonless night) is known as Mahalaya Paksha. The meaning of 'paksha' in Sanskrit is 15 days.

Find here info on Ganesha Chaturthi
Aswayuja Amavasya is popularly known as 'Mahalaya' or Mahalaya Amavasya'.

In most of the regions of India Mahalaya is also known as Pitru Paksha. Mahalaya Amavasya marks the end of Mahalaya Paksha and the beginning of Dussehra Navaratri.

Mahalaya is considered as a very special day dedicated to forefathers when people across the country make their offerings in the form of Tarpanam or Pinda to their forefathers. Tarpanam or Pinda is the offering of food to the departed souls (ancestors). By doing so, people express their gratitude to their forefathers. There is a belief that people with Pitrudosha i.e. who suffer in their life due to the sins of their father, if perform Tarpanam on Mahalaya days will get rid of Pitrudosha.

As per convenience, people perform Tarpanam during the entire Mahalaya Paksha at sunrise or only on the Mahalaya Amavasya which is the most important day for Tarpanam during the Mahalaya Paksha. Depending on the affordability, people perform Tarpanam or offerings of food not only to their ancestors but also they donate food grains, clothes and other necessary items to the poor Brahmins or to the poor and needy ones in the name of their ancestors. It is believed that by doing such charitable acts, the forefathers souls will be much satisfied and they shower their blessings on their children.  

In Hinduism, there is a belief that the astral bodies come closer to the Earth during this period and hence Hindus consider it auspicious to perform rituals or Tarpan to their ancestors. It is believed that by performing the Tarpans, the ancestors of the performers are redeemed of their sins if any and in turn they bless the performers. Besides this, even performing such Pitru Tarpans redeems one from Pitru Dosha if any.

Pitru tarpan can be performed either on the specific tithis or on the Mahalaya Amavasya day. As a part of these rituals, people who perform Pitru tarpans, offer / donate rice, food provisions, vegetables and clothes to poor Brahmins.

Mahalaya Paksha date: Sept 29' 2015 to October 12' 2015. Mahalaya Amavasya is one Monday - October 12' 2015 (Amavasya is from 1.52 a.m (mid-night) on Sunday - October 11 till 4.00 a.m on Monday - October 12 as per IST). As, it is Amavasya at the time of sunrise on Oct 11 and also Amavasya night on October 11, Mahalaya Amavasya is celebrated on October 11' 2015 i.e Sunday and Pitru tarpanam is done on this day only. However, the timings differ from region to region and accordingly it is celebrated. It is advised to confirm the local timings.

Amavasya marks the beginning of Dussehra Navaratri - the festival of nine nights
when Goddess Durga Devi is worshiped each night in nine different forms. This highly auspicious festival of Hindus is celebrated throughout the country.

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