Shraddha Vidhi | Shraddha Vidhanam – Types of Shraddha, Time of Shraddha, Materials for Shraddham

Mahalaya paksha tharpan

Mahalaya paksha tharpan

Shradha (that which is done with attention and sincerity) is the term used by Brahmins for the annual death ceremony. I am summarizing here the rules regarding Sradha as given by Anna in a book called Pithru Pooja and another book called Pithru yagnam which is compiled by Sri.V.Srinivasan. Both books are in Tamil. Reading through it , you would soon come to the conclusion that Sradha according to rules is extremely difficult to perform, due to our pre occupation with modern life.
Sradha comes from the word Sradha(Trust/loyalty) and indicates the annual ritual performed to offer food to three generations of our ancestors. It is believed that when our manes reach the land of the manes(Pithru Loka) , our one year is one day for them. We are only attempting to offer food and water to them every day. Normally every one performs Sradha only to his parents but it should be offered by us to all those to whom we have performed death ceremony, Real parents in case we are adopted, Grandparents , if they die after the death of all their sons and brother of father if he does not have a son , brother if he does not have a son.
1.Some definitions

Kartha- The one who does Sradha
Boktha-He who participates in Sradha representing the manes(Pithrus.)

1.Time for doing Sradha

1.1. Sradha should be performed in the souramana month* , on the phase of the moon and on the thidhi when the person dies , annually. The thidhi is that which occurs in the Kudaba kala in Aparahna i.e after 18 Nazhigai(approximately 8 hours after sun rise) . Sradha is to be performed in the Kudaba Kala of Aparahna only. During the Paksha of Sradha at least for three one days one should follow all rituals and observe all rules.
1.2. If the thidhi is spread over two days, Sradha should be performed on that day when Thidhi is there in the afternoon. If both days it is spread on the afternoon , then it should be performed on the day when it is spread more in the afternoon. If it is spread equally then it should be done on the first day.
1.3. If during a month two thithis come , then Sradha should be performed on the second Thidhi. If one of them happens to be the day when month starts(Sankramana) , it should be done on the other day.. If both are having Sankramana , it should be done on the first day.
1.4. If there is no thidhi in a particular month, it should be done on the thidhi of the previous chandramana month without Sankramana. If it is not there in the Chandramana month , it should be done in the next souramana month.
(*There are two system of month in India. Souramana month is the period when Sun stays in the rasi of the month . Chandramana is always from Prathama for thirty days. Chandramana year will have 360 days. After every five years, there would be an Athi masa(Extra month))

2. Tripurusha Udesa and yeka purusha Udesa

2.1 When we do Sradha to father, mother , grandfather , grandmother , great grandfather , great grandmother , maternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, wife, brother of father, brother, biological father , biological mother, we should do Sradha aimed at three generations(Tri Purusha udhesa) . For all others only his generation would be addressed(Yeka Purusha udesa). The Sradha where three generations are addressed is called Parvana Vidhana and where only one generation is addressed it is called Yekodhishta.

2.2. In Sradha being done by ladies in case of Father in law, mother in law, father, mother, husband, Grandfather , and grandmother, three generations are addressed. All other cases only one generation are addressed.

2.3. If Sradha is performed by someone representing a lady or child by taking authorization in the form of Durba grass,, he does not have Apavasya.(Sacred thread need not be worn on the right shoulder).

3. Homa for whom and when

3.1 When Sradha is performed for father, mother , grandfather , grandmother , great grandfather , great grandmother , maternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, wife, brother of father, brother, biological father , biological mother, then only Homa is performed . For others Homa is not there.

3.2 For all sradhas performed by women there is no Homa.

3.3. Homa cannot be performed without the presence of the wife. That is an unmarried person/widower or one whose wife is absent due to some reason is not authorized to perform Homa.

4. Procedure when more than one Sradha has to be performed on the same day.

4.1.If the Sradha of father and mother come on the same day or comes on a day when the family taint goes away, then the Sradha of father has to be done first and later Sradha to the mother has to be done.

4.2. If Sradha of father and step mother comes on the same day , after performing father’s Sradha, cooking has to be done gain , and the Sradha of step mother has to be performed.

4.3 If the annual Sradha(Apthikam) and Masika(Monthly sradham performed for one year after death) comes together , then the Aapthika should be done first and then the Masika.

4.4. If Sradha addressed to three generations(Parvana) and Ekodhishta(One addressed to one generation) comes on the same day , first Parvana has to be performed and then Ehkodhista with new cooking.

4.5. The Sradha of father or mother which was not performed due to it occurring in the middle of after death ceremonies of father or mother should be performed after Sapindikarana day. But if the Sradha is of anybody else except the parents then it should be done only after the first death anniversary Sradha.

4.6.Before the Sapindikarana of mother or father , we should not perform the Sradha of anybody else. But the Sradha of mother or father should be done before the sapindikarana of others. If for some reason the sapindikarana of mother or father is delayed, the Sradha of any of the others can be performed after 12th day.

4.7. On the same day two sradhas should not be performed addressing the same manes That is Sradha or mane worship coming on fixed days and Sradha on special occasions come (like that during eclipse) then performing that of the special occasions would give the effect of the one which comes on fixed days.

4.8 In case of Sradha being performed by ladies is stopped by their getting periods , they should do it after the time when they take purificatory bath.

4.9 If Sradha is stopped due to birth or death taint, then it should be performed after the taint goes away. If Sradha is not performed due to forgetfulness or due to some other reason(Being in a foreign country/priest not available etc) , then it should be done on the Ekadasi of Krishna Paksha or Amavasya day.

4.10. If we happen to perform death ceremonies to mother or father in law during the first year of death of our parents, then their Sapindikaranam should be performed after the annual ceremony of the parents only.

5.Materials for Shradha (Shradha dravya)

5.1.If for some reason it is not possible to present Vasthram ( Cloth) to the Brahmins during Sradha , at least , they should be given a sacred thread(Yagnopavita).

5.2. The food for Sradha should be cooked in ghee. Some people believe that , since Gingelly is used during the Sradha , Gingelly oil could also be used.

5.3.Millets , cowpea seeds , horse gram , Drum stick, Ash gourd, Bottle gourd , , asafetida and all western vegetables should not be used for Sradha. ( In some families in Kerala, Snake gourd is specially used.)

5.3.1 Black gram, black Gingelly , wheat, cowpea, bitter gourd, jack fruit , mango , Pomegranate, Curry leaf, lemon, Banana fruit, Ilanthai fruit, gooseberry , grapes, pepper, snake gourd, Kandan Kathiru, honey , ghee, Kandasari sugar, Jaggery , sea salt, Cow milk, Yam , colacasia, Jeera , Cardamom, Lablab beans Thoothuvalai, Pirandai, Curd prepared out of cow’s milk and Banana pseudo stem can be used for cooking in Sradham.

5.3.2. Some people use Coconut , mustard , Bengal gram , ash gourd, wood apple and Chillies. Follow the customs of your house.
5.4. Fruits, sweet preparations , milk, curd and Ghee there is no taint due to sesha. That is even if they are offered to the manes, the remaining material can be used by all others.

6,Sradha devatha(Gods of Sradha)

6.1 Viswe devas
The Viswe devas are addresses as Puroorava-ardhrava during the Sradha of householders and as Sadhu-Guru in case of Sanyasins.

6.2 Pithru devas
Father is addressed as Vasu , Grandfather as Rudra and great grandfather as Adithya. In case of Sradha of father’s brothers and elder brother, they and their two previous generations should be addressed as Vasu-Rudra-Adithya.

3.Maha Vishnu
Instead of calling a Brahmin and making him Maha Vishnu , in many case Maha Vishnu is simply assumed to be present and no one represents him.

7.The effect /results of Sradha

The performance of Sradha makes devas happy by the Homa, the people in heaven by food offering to Brahmins , The people in Yama’s world by Pinda dhana(offering of rice balls), The human beings by good food , the devils and ghosts by what is left over , the people in hell by the cooked rice which is sprinkled (Vikira annam) and the people unknown by the food offered to the crows.

8.The type of Sradhas

8.1 Anna Sradha which is done using cooked rice
8.2 Aama Sradha which is done using uncooked food
8.3 Hiranya Sradha which is done using money only
8.4. He who has a living father does not have the right to do rituals of Pithrus. But he should do Brahma Yagna (without the Pithru part), Nandi sradham and Theertha sradham. For him the gods addressed are same as that done by his father. He cannot do Gaya Sradha.

8.Some rules of Sradha

8.1 Both Kartha and Boktha should not eat anything after eating the ritual Bhojanam after the Sradha.
8.2.We can do Koosmanda Homam for removing our sins before Sradha.
8.3. We should start doing Oupasana at least four days before Sradha. The fire of Sradha is lit from the Oupasa agni.
8.4.For performing Sradha Kudhabha time , Douhithra (daughter’s son) and black Gingelly are very important.
8.5 . It is believed that black Gingelly was got after Varaha Avathara and prevents evil spirits from entering our house.
8.6.We should not ask our Brother to participate in the Sradha as a Boktha(representative of our manes
8.7. Sick person or one who do not know Vedas cannot be a Boktha.
8.8.He who has married a girl who is not A kanya cannot be a Boktha.
8.9. During the monthly periods of a lady, her husband cannot be a Boktha
8.10. People who do not have a wife and a son cannot be a Boktha.
8.11He who has participated in a Sradha as Boktha cannot be a Boktha for another three days.

8,12. The one wants and requests to be made as a Boktha is ineligible.
8.13.Yogi, Jnani , Sama Vedi and Douhithran (daughter’s son) are preferred to be Bhokthas.
8.14 . He whose wife is more than 3 months pregnant cannot be a Boktha.
8.15He who has shaved in that Morning cannot be a Boktha
8.!6 He who is suffering from leprosy , infected nail or teeth cannot be a Boktha
8.17 . He who has to perform first death ceremony of his father cannot be a Boktha
8.18.When two Brahmins come , the younger one should represent the Pithrus and the elder one the Viswedevas.
8.19. People who can afford should give silk Dhoti(5 years) and Uthareeyam (3 yards) to the Bokthas

8.20 At least we should present the same quality of Dhoti which we normally wear.
8.21. People who cannot afford should at least give a Sacred thread(Yagnopavitha)
8.22. The Kartha should start the Sradha only after wearing a new Yagnopavitha.
8.23. The Kartha should never get angry on the Sradha day.
8.24 He should not take food in somebody else’s house at least for a month before the Sradha. This could be at least 3 days when it is not possible to do otherwise.(Food from teacher, sister, uncle and father in law can be taken)

8.25 Oil bath should not be taken within the seven day period preceding the Sradha

8.26.He should not lie on a cotton bed or make love in those seven days
8.27 We should not wash the feet of the Brahmin with Pavithram. It should be removed and tucked in the ear.
8.28 For Viswedevas it is Chathurasram and for Pithrus it is circle below the Plate on which feet are washed.
8.30. The water used for washing the feet of Viswedevas is holy and should not mix with water used to wash the feet of Pithrus.
8.40 The remaining ghee which is used for Homa should not be consumed
8.41 Cooking should be done in Ghee. It could be done in coconut oil or Gingelly oil as per the custom of our forefathers

8.42.Seasoning with mustard is not done by some and some others do it. This is determined by the practice of our forefathers.
8.43 . The Kartha and his wife should wear cloths washed and dried on the same day.
8.44.All food articles should be washed before cooking.
8.45 Relation or servant should not be employed for cooking
8.46 A lady who is nearing time for periods or one who has just taken the purificatory bath cannot cook.
8.$7 Cooking should not be done with wert cloth
8.58 You can shake the wet cloth seven times and then wear it and cook
8.59 If we happen to go to toilet during the time of cooking, we should take bath and restart the cooking

8.60 A pregnant lady or a sick lady should not cook
8.61.A widow who has not shaved her head should not cook
8.62. While cooking, we should not keep on talking
8.63 People who have drunk coffee should not cook
8.64 The Sradha should be performed in our own house. If not possible , we can give rent and then perform it.
8.65 Food for Sradha should not be cooked in steel vessels
8.66 Thilaka and sound of bell should not be there during Sradha time
8.67 The hair should be tied
8.68 The rice should be prepared last
8.69 when we serve rice on the leaf steam should come out of it.

8.70 The leaf used for taking food of the Brahmins should be buried in the soil. Some people put it in an unused well, In towns some people give it to the cows. This is not correct. But if there is no other go do it.

8.71.,Theleaves should be removed before the final blessings.

8.72 The Kartha should not clean his teeth with brush or stick on the day of Sradha and on the day before

8.73 The Bokthas should not touch each other They should not talk during meals but show their requirements by pointing them out with their fingers
8.74 They should not keep Payasam and ghee remaining on the leaf after they eat. They should keep a small quantity of every other thing
8.75 They should eat slowly and take sufficient food so that they do not feel hungry at night.
8.76 Vasu, Rudra and Adithya are Sradha devathas
8.77Byjoing these devas along with them , our pithrus would only be happy.
8.78 All rituals addressed to devas should be done with Yagnopavita on the left shoulder. The water offering(Tharpana) should be offered to them straight. They should be worshipped by rice

8.79 All rituals addressed to the Pithrus should be done with Yagnopavita on the right shoulder. Water offering should be through the space between thumb and the next finger to the sides. They should be worshipped by Gingelly.
8.80 When the Brahmins are taking food Abisravana mantras should be chanted so that Rakshasa are kept away. If we do not know these mantras , Brahmins who know them should be employed to chant them. They should be given fees for doing so.
8.81 In case of Yekodishtam, Sapindikaranam , Masikam , Anumasikam, Nandi Sradham Abisravana Mantras should not be chanted.
8.82 . If some eaten food from one Brahmin falls on another Brahmins leaf. The leaves should be removed and they should be again served food in the new leaf. They should not get up.

8.83 Till the Brahmins finish their food , the fire of Homa should be maintained. If it goes out, the Sradha has to be redone.
8.84 The pinda meant for crow(Vayasa Pinda) should be protected till it is eaten by a crow.
8.85 Though all serving and other rituals are done first to the Brahmin representing the devas. Getting up after finishing the food should be done first by Brahmin representing the Pithrus.
8.86 After Pindas are offered put little of the rice in the mouth. In some families they only smell it.
8.87 Pindas can be put in water or fire. If the Sradha is performed in sacred waters , it should be put in the river

8.88 Till the Sradha is over , Pundra and Rudraksha should not be worn.
8.89 The Kartha and Boktha should not drink anything except water. Boktha can put Thamboola. He should not do any other ritual that day. He can do Sandhya Vandana only after Chanting Gayathri ten times. If he is ding Oupasana ,m it should be got done by somebody else. He should not accept any Dhana(charity) that day.
8.90 If crow takes Pinda from east , you will get wealth. If it takes from south, you will get disease, If it takes from west, you would go on a tour. If it takes from north, your longevity would get reduced.

8.91. If it is Ekadasi , the Kartha can and should take the food offered to the manes.
8.92 Since the dead people become devas, Sradha Pithru sesham of people younger to you and of your wife can be taken.

8.93 Even if they are married ladies can eat Pithru sesham of mother, father and brother
8.94 But if they become widow they are not supposed to eat it.
8,95 There is no pithrusesham in case of father in law and uncle.
8.96 The para heni Tharpanam should be performed next day to sradham. It should be done next day early morning at 4 AM. After doing it a bath has to be taken, If father is alive there is no Paraheni Tharpana in the Sradha of mother. There is no Paraheni Tharpana in case of Sapindikaranam, Anumasikam , Nandi and Apthikam.

8.97 Brothers who have divided their property should do Sradha separately.
8.98 If they live in separate houses, they should do it separately. Joining only on Sradha day and the eldest one only doing is not correct. If mother is alive all brothers should do it together.
8.99 Gingelly should not be taken by thumb and the next finger.
8.100 Shradha should be performed during Mahalaya P, Bharani Ashtami and Vyadheepada are special

8.101 Nandi Sradha is an auspicious function.
Sradha should be done first according to rules Some people use grass instead of Dharbha and Barley instead of Gingelly. The Pariseshachanam round is not done in anti clock wise directions. Swadha(food of Manes) is not offered. It should be done during Garbha danam , Pumsavanam, Seemantham, Jathakarmam, Nama Karnam, Annaprasanam, Choulam , Upanayanam, Graha pravesam etc.People who cannot afford can perform Nandi as Aama Sradha or Hiranya Sradha.

In Nandi Two Brahmins representing Viswa deva, two Brahmins for grandfather and two for father should be represented.

Shradha Vidhi
(Rules governing annual death ceremony)
Compiled by
P.R.Ramachander

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