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See    Shraaddh-2 ;    Shraaddh Niyam;    Pitri Paksha  for other information on Shraaddh;    Shraaddh in Gayaa

Shraaddh is a kind of memorial ceremony to remember dead ancestors. It goes up to three generations on both father's and mother's side. Instead of each person performing this ceremony, the society has prescribed 16 days to pay homage on their death ceremony in those days every year. These days occur in the month of Aashwin. They are 16 days - one for each day of the fortnight, that is why this fortnight starts from Bhaadrapad Poornimaa (Full Moon day) and ends on Aashwin Amaavasyaa. It is as much a son's duty to perform Shraadh as looking after one's parents, as per Shaastra. Shraaddh is a Pitri Poojaa or Upaasanaa. The Poojaa Vidhi has been prescribed by Rishi. When we perform Shraaddh our children are also expected to perform Shraaddh.

Types of Shraaddh

In Padm Puraan, 1/28, Vishnu Himself says - "Whatever Shraaddh is done daily is called "Nitya Shraaddh". When it is done in Krishn Paksh, it is called "Kaamya Shraaddh". Then one should do Shraaddh in Pitra Paksh also for Pitar. One should not mind whether Soorya is in Kanyaa (Virgo) sign or not. When Soorya is in Kanyaa sign, from that day to 16 days are very important like Yagya. One must do Kaamya Shraaddh in those days. If one cannot Shraaddh in those days then one may do when Soorya is in Tulaa (Libra) sign and Krishn Paksh is going on."

Matsya Puraan also says - "Nityam Naimittakam Kaamyam Trividh Shraadh Mukhyatey" - means primarily there are three types of Shraaddh - Nitya (daily), Naimittik (periodically) and Kaamya (with purpose).

According to Mahaanirvaan Tantra

Mahaanirvaan Tantra (p 234-236) lists many kinds of Shraaddh, such as -

(1) Vriddhi Shraaddh -
Vriddhi Shraaddh should be performed in consecrating tanks, wells, and ponds, images of Devtaa's houses, gardens and in Vrat. In ceremonies which may be and are performed by women alone, there is no Vriddhi Shraaddh

(2) Pret Shraaddh -
This is performed on the day following the end of the period of uncleanliness - if there is any miscarriage, or if the child dies immediately after the birth, or if a child dies after the birth, then the period of uncleanliness is to be reckoned according to the custom of the family. The period of uncleanliness is 10 days in case of a Braahman, 12 days in case a Kshatriya and 15 days in case of Vaishya. For Shoodra it is 30 days. On the death of an Agnate who is not a Sa-Pind, the period of uncleanliess is 3 days and on the death of a Sa-Pind, if the information arrives after the prescribed period, one becomes iunclean for 3 days. The unclean man is not entitled to perform any rite relating to the Devtaa and the Pitri except Kul worship and that also which has already been commenced. see also Sootak and Paatak)

(3) Parvan Shraaddh -
Parvan Shraaddh is done in the ceremonies relating to the consecration of emblems or images of Devtaa, or while starting for or returning from pilgrimage etc. In this Shraadddh three generations of ancestors (along with their spouses) are invoked and propitiated. In this Shraaddh five Braahman are invited. Braahman are qualified people. Three Braahman who are called by the term "viva Dev Patrah" are the recipient of the Deities Vishwe Dev, occupy the place representing the Devtaa, and the other two are called "Pitri Patrah" recipient representing the ancestors. Karm are of three kinds - Uttam, Madhyam and Adham. Parvan Shraadh is an Uttam Karm.

The following blessing Mantra are recited
dataro no abhivarthantham vedah shaantireva cha, Shraaddh cha no ma vyagamad bahu deya no astu
[Means "O forefathers, may there be in increase in knowledge and progeny for us. May there not be a decline in Shraddhaa, faith based in trust, may there be prosperity for us.]
tranuddisya tu yat Shraaddham tat Parvanam tarpanam tathaa

(4) Ekoddisht Shraaddh -
The Shraaddh performed for one man is called Ekoddisht Shraaddh.

(5) Aabhudaayik Shraaddh or Naandeemukh Shraaddh -
The word Aabhudaayak is derived from Abhyudaya which means prosperity, happiness, festival. It is also called Naandeemukh Shraaddh. The word Naandeemukh means the prelude of any auspicious rite. Naandee being derived from Nand which means to please, and Mukh means face. In this rite the name of each of the ancestors is preceded by the word "Naandeemukh" in the case of the male and "Naandeemukhee" in the case of the female. It is Shraaddh or commemorative offering to the Pitri preliminary to any joyous occasion, initiation, marriage etc, to the father, grandfather, maternal grandfather etc.

According to Bhaagvat Puraan

Bhavishya Puraan, 1/21 describes the following 12 types of Shraaddh --
(1) Nitya Shraaddh - Whichever Shraaddh is done daily is called Nitya Shraaddh. Sesame seed, grains, water, milk, fruit, root, vegetable should be used to do Nitya Shraaddh.
(2) Naimittik Shraaddh - Ekodrisht Shraaddh is called Naimittik Shraaddh. It should be done methodically and feed Braahman in odd number.
(3) Kaamya Shraaddh - Whichever Shraaddh is done with a desire, that Shraaddh is called Kaamya Shraaddh. It should be done like Paarvan Shraaddh.
(4) Vriddhi Shraaddh - Whichever Shraaddh is done for increase and growth, it is called Vriddhi Shraaddh.
(5) Sa-pindan Shraaddh,
(6) Paarvan Shraaddh - Whichever Shraaddh is done on Amaavasyaa or on any festival, it is called Paarvan Shraaddh.
(7) Goshth Shraaddh - Whichever Shraaddh is done for cows is called Goshth Shraaddh.
(8) Shuddhi Shraaddh - Whatever food is fed to satisfy Pitar and learned, or to get wealth and comfort, it is called Shuddhi Shraaddh.
(9) Karmaang Shraaddh - Shraaddh done at the time of Sanskaar is called Karmaang Shraaddh.
(10) Daivik Shraaddh - Shraaddh done with Ghee and Havan, on the day of travel for Devtaa is called Daivik Shraaddh.
(11) Aupachaarik Shraaddh - Shraaddh done for the growth and the health of the body is called Aupachaarik Shraaddh.
(12) Saamvasarik (annual) Shraaddh - Among all Shraaddh, Saamvatsarik Shraaddh is the best. It is done on the death day of the dead. Who does not do Saamvatsarik Shraaddh, no Devtaa accepts his worship."

Soorya Dev answers to Arun (his Saarathee) at his question "Who does not know the Tithi (day) of the death of his father and mother, on what date he should do their Shraaddh?" "He should do their Shraaddh on Amaavasyaa day. Who worships me with special food in Maargsheersh and Maagh Maas, I am very pleased with him. One should not spend money in Shraaddh earned by selling Ved, or gotten from a woman. Who takes food without Bali-Vaishwadev, he falls in Narak. A person, who is friend or enemy, fool or learned, who comes at the time of Bali-Vaishwadev time is called A-Tithi, and that A-Tithi is the ladder to Swarg. Who comes without telling day and time, he is called A-Tithi. A person who has never come before, and will never come again, he is also called A-Tithi, he should be considered as Vishwedev.

Some Other Types of Shraaddh

Hiranya Shraaddh (Madhyam Shraaddh)

Amaavasyaa Tarpanam

Teerth Shraaddh (pilgrimage)

Jeev Shraaddh
Antyeshti Karm performed by an individual for the sake of himself.

Shraaddh Ceremony

Shraaddh is a religious ceremony (not a social one) that involves invoking and propitiating one's forefathers. The following verse in Brahm Puraan explains the important elements of a typical Shraaddh.

Deshe Kaale cha Paatre cha Shraaddhaya Vidhinaa cha yaat
Pitrinadhisya Viprebhya: dattam Shraaddh Muchyate

Shraaddh is a Karm in which ancestors are invoked at the proper time and place, propitiated as prescribed and Dakshinaa is given to Braahman. Shraaddh is not identical to ancestor worship as in ancient cultures, such as Egyptians, Babylonians, or Chinese do. In cultures where there is ancestor worship, usually people believe that the ancestors remain for eternity and they are worshipped much the same as gods and deceased saints are worshipped. While it is true that ancestors are invoked in Shraaddh ceremony there is a significant difference. Hindu accept the principle of Karm and rebirth. Shraaddh ceremony is looked upon as a Karm that is expected to have a result that benefits both its performer and the recipient.

As those living in the earthly realm do not know with certainty, the timeframe in which beings in other states of experience operate, three generations are invoked representing the ancestors. The prayer of a Hindu is always for his ancestors to move on with their experiences and journey that leads to freedom from the cycle of birth and death, and not wait around so that they can join them in the hereafter. Additionally Shraaddh is looked upon as an obligatory duty to be performed, to fulfill ones debt to ones ancestors, for all that they have handed down to us.

When is the Shraaddh Done?

Shraaddh is done after a man or woman dies. It is a religious ceremony to appease the soul of one's family members after they die. There are a total of 16 Shraaddh. First one should do Daah Sanskaar. Then third day, he should go for collecting the bone remnants. On 10th day he should leave wet clothes, and then -

1st Shraaddh - On 11th day he should do the Ekaadshaah Shraaddh, feed one Brahman to nourish the body. At that time he should donate clothes, a stool, shoes etc.
2nd Shraaddh - On 14th day he should do the Chaturthaah Shraaddh.
3rd Shraaddh - After three Paksh (45 days) he should do the Traipaakshik or Saardhmaasik Shraaddh.
4th Shraaddh - Within six months he should do the Oonshaanmaasik Shraaddh.
5th Shraaddh - Within one year he should do the Oonaabdik Shraaddh.      AND
12 Shraaddh - Besides mentioned 5 Shraaddh above, he should do 12 monthly Shraaddh
[They make a total of 17 Shraaddh, but the mentioned number is 16 only. It is confusing]
[From Padm Puraan, Notes]


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 06/10/12