What is Mahalaya Amavasya?
Mahalaya Amavasya is a very important and auspicious day for offering gratitude to our ancestors or Pitrus. The waning lunar phase or dark fortnight in September-October is called Mahalaya Paksha. The New Moon during this period is Mahalaya Amavasya. This fortnight is very holy for appeasing one’s departed ancestors by performing Tarpanam. Amavasya falls on the last day of this fortnight, and it is the most important day in the year for such rites. Hindus perform Amavasya Tithi Shraddha for their deceased family members who died on Amavasya Tithi, Poornima Tithi, and Chaturdashi Tithi.
Significance of Mahalaya Paksha
It is believed that during the fortnight of Mahalaya Paksha, the energies of disembodied beings are present in the atmosphere. Departed souls come to earth from Pitru Loka to receive offerings from their descendants. If you perform prayers and rituals during this time, you can earn special merit. On Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya, which is the universal day of remembrance, everyone can express their gratitude to their departed ancestors by performing Mahalaya Tarpanam.
‘Maha’ means ‘great’ and ‘Alaya’ means ‘a place’. ‘Ama’ in ‘Amavasya’ means ‘together,’ and ‘vasya’ denotes ‘to reside’. It signifies the great universal period when all the ancestors come to earth to accept offerings from their families. If you cannot perform Shraddha on Amavasya Tithi, Poornima Tithi, and Chaturdashi, you can perform Shraddh on this day as this is a very auspicious day to appease departed souls. Amavasya Shraddha is also called Sarvapitra Moksha Amavasya.
This fortnight is an important time for spiritual practices. On Amavasya day, the sun and the moon exert a combined gravitational pull on the earth. Due to this, the energies of all beings are pulled upwards. This leads to heightened awareness.
People who die without children can also receive offerings given on Mahalaya Amavasya. Those who did not do acts of charity or donations of food will be denied comfort in Pitri Loka. The souls of such people, too, can benefit from these ceremonies. Dead people whose date of death is unknown and whose annual Shraddh cannot be performed can be appeased on Mahalaya Amavasya.
If any of your loved ones died suddenly in a violent manner, whether by accident, murder, or suicide, Mahalaya Amavasya is the perfect day to remember them. You can appease them on this day if you worship with faith and make your offerings to them with love and gratitude.
By making offerings and doing Shraddh on Mahalaya Amavasya, you will be able to provide their souls peace and gati (forward momentum). This can also create happy and harmonious relations within the family. You are also likely to get relief from physical and mental ailments after doing this ritual.
Things You Should Do on This Day
Do Tarpanam at Home
Offer Tarpanam at home on Mahalaya Amavasya day in your Pooja room. Light a lamp. Take some black sesame, jau grains, white rice, and kusha grass. Fill a copper pot with water. Place some blades of kusha grass in your left palm and add some rice as well. Tilt your left palm forward and let the rice fall down the tips of your fingers. Pour water from the copper pot slowly and offer this daan, thinking of the devtas.
The second Tarpanam is for the Rishis. Keep the kusha grass in your left palm, and add some jau grains. Hold the water pot in your right hand. Tilt your left hand sideways and let the jau grains pour outwards through the side of your palm. Add water from the pot slowly, and offer this to the rishis.
The third Tarpanam is for the Pitrus or ancestors. Keep the kusha grass in your left palm, and add the black sesame as well. Take the water pot in your right hand. Thinking of your ancestors, pour the til offering (tilanjali) from the inside of your palm (the space between the thumb and forefinger). Add water slowly from the pot to this daan.
If you wish, you may do additional rounds of Tarpanam and tilanjali for a particular ancestor, mentioning their name and thinking of them, while you make the til and water offering.
Make balls using cooked rice mixed with black sesame and offer them to the crows and animals.
Perform a small Shraddh ceremony by feeding a brahmin. Include the dish that your departed ancestors liked the most.
Read Holy Scriptures
Read scriptures like the Garuda Purana, Agni Purana and stories of Nachiketa and Ganga Avataram. This is believed to be beneficial. Conducting recitals of Bhagavata Puran and Bhagvad Gita is also good.
- Perform Poojas and make donations in memory of your loved ones.
- By performing Mahalaya Tarpanam, one can please the ancestral beings and get many blessings from them for a happy, healthy, wealthy, and successful life.