In every part of the world, there are ceremonies to remember and honor one’s ancestors. Among Hindus in India, too, there is a tradition or custom called Tharpanam to honor ancestors. By performing this ritual, people believe that their ancestors will get Moksha, and they, in turn, will bless their heirs.
Significance of Thai Amavasya
Certain special days are deemed to be suitable for performing Tharpanam. One such day is Thai Amavasai/Thai Amavasya. It is the Amavasya or no moon, which falls in the Tamil month of Thai (mid-Jan – mid-Feb). Thai Amavasya is also the first Amavasya that occurs in the sacred Uttarayana period. So, it is considered very auspicious for performing rituals for our ancestors. Failing to perform such rituals brings bad luck and causes Pitru Dosha or ancestral curse.
After death, our ancestors reach the Pitru Loka and live there for a certain period in their astral bodies. During this period, they survive only on the offerings made by their descendants who remain on earth. Hence, performing Shradh or Tharpanam rituals regularly gives them the nourishment they need in Pitru Loka. If we do not perform these rituals, we may get Pitru Shaap or Pitru Dosha. Offering Pinda Daan, Thila Daan, and other types of Daan on Thai Amavasya with the help of Vedic priests is a remedy for this problem.
Connect with ancestors on New Moon days
New moon or Amavasya days are supposedly ideal to connect with ancestors and seek their blessings. Thai Amavasai is one of the best days for this purpose. Those who do not make offerings to ancestors may experience blockages in life and incur their curses. But on Thai Amavasya, we can atone for such things and propitiate them. This can change our lives for the better.
The Thithi of the dark moon (when the moon is not visible in the sky) is Amavasya Thithi or just Amavasya. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, a lunar month begins on Pournami/Poornima (full moon day), and Amavasya occurs in the middle.
The month of Thai comes 10th in the Tamil calendar and is viewed as a very auspicious month. It starts on the holy Uttarayana day when the Sun begins its northward journey in the sky. On this very same day, Tamil Hindus also celebrate the harvest festival of Pongal.
What happens on Thai Amavasya day?
In Tamil Nadu, on Thai Amavasya day, Hindus take a holy dip in one of the sacred water bodies and offer Shradh or Tharpanam to departed ancestors. They believe that the souls of the dead visit earth on this day to bless their relatives. The rituals are performed on the river banks or the seashore. It is an important day at the Rameshwaram Sri Ramanatha Swamy Temple. Rituals, Poojas, and prayers for Thai Amavasi are also observed at places like including Kanyakumari, Dhanushkodi, Devipattinam, Muhuntharayarchatram, and Sethukarai.
Sun, Saturn, and karma removal
The Sun signifies the soul in Vedic astrology, and he can help us seek ancestral blessings during this time. Doing Tharpanam on Thai Amavasya matters because the Sun enters the house of Saturn (Capricorn). Saturn can remove negative ancestral karma. Thus, Thai Amavasai is a very significant day. In Thai month, we experience warmer days and feel revitalized and energized. Thai Amavasya bestows us with immense energy on account of the ancestral blessings received by offering homage to our ancestors through rituals like Tharpanam.
Legend of Tharpanam
The Barhishadhas had a mentally conceived daughter called Acchoda. Barishadhas live on the divine nectar or soma juice. Achchoda pined for a real father. But her desire for a mortal led to the loss of her divine and yogic powers, and she fell from heaven. While she was falling, she prayed to be rescued. As she was passing through Pitru Loka, the souls which dwelt there heard her prayers and rescued her. They advised her to take birth as King Amavasu’s (Amavasya is named after Amavasu) daughter. She did so and regained her powers. To express her gratitude to the Pitrus, Acchoda performed a ceremony for them. This custom of honoring the Pitrus or Pitru Karma continues even now. Pitru karma is a prayer by us to our forefathers for their blessings and protection from any impediments.
Benefits of Tharpanam on Thai Amavasya
Performing Tharpanam or Shradh for ancestors on Thai Amavasya brings many benefits. It resolves problems related to health, wealth, and relationships and remedies Pitru Dosha in the horoscope. The ancestors bestow blessings for peace and longevity. They will also be liberated from their curse and continue with their subsequent lives. It can also remove unwanted desires and benefit our children.