Honoring the Ancestors
When I was in my early 20's, I studied at Ayurveda school in the rolling hills of North Carolina. It was an ideal place for a recovering perfectionist to find respite. My teacher, authorMaya Tiwari, had been told as a young woman that there was nothing that doctors could do for her ovarian cancer, except give her some morphine so she could die peacefully.
Instead, she took to the woods, and healed herself through food, breath, sound, and tapping into ancestral memories. My time at her school was rejuvenating and taught me a ton about living in harmony with nature. And it taught me something powerful that I neglected to put into practice --until now.
Ayurveda is the health science of India, and with it's ancient roots, has many branches, and many elements to contribute to health. Food, breath, sound, daily practices like self massage, seasonal practices like fasting at the change of seasons, or eating what most appropriate to the time of year; there are so many practices that it's often we'll choose those which most suit us.
And neglect the ones that don't seem to.
So I paid minimal attention to connecting with ancestors.
Enter my neighbor.
Kristopher almost died from malaria after living in Africa for a month. An Ayurvedic doctor rejuvenated him to full capacity.
And K shared with me that in Africa,
when people want more money, they honor the ancestors.
And October is the perfect time for that.
Pitru Paksha is 16 days in September/October. This is the time period in Hinduism which is considered best to pay respect to the ancestors, through offerings, especially of food. Pitru Paksha is simple to do, and you can kind of customize it to your own needs... and it brings a tremendous peace and freedom of mind.
There's a mythology to this observance which I'll post below.
Every year, a 15-16 day spread marks the presence of our ancestors on the earth. It's considered a time when ancestors ascend on the Earth to bless their children and lineage. Food is offered to dogs, cows and crows, and it's believed that the food offered helps the ancestors feel satisfied. But do you know why offering food to elders carries such significance during Pitru Paksha 2021?
Pitru Paksha 2021 & Significance Of Offering Food To Elders
As per Hindu Puranas, we owe a karmic debt to our ancestors because they have helped us take birth. After getting free from the circle of life and death from Earth, our 3 preceding generations reside in the world between heaven and earth. Here, our ancestors are not able to find respite from their bodily needs such as hunger, pain, thirst and heat. Only the Pooja performed by the succeeding generations on earth can provide them with relief and ensure their entry into heaven. Offering food satisfies the unfulfilled wishes of our ancestors. The ‘Raj Tama’ that emerge from their bodies attrats animals such as cows, dogs and birds like crows. Therefore, we offer food to them. In this manner, it is believed that the dishes and food are fed to the ancestors.
Mythological Legend Of Pitru Paksha
In Hindu mythology, after he died, Karan went to heaven, where he was offered only gold and jewelry. Without food, he was hungry and asked the god Indra why he was being offered jewels and not food. Indra replied that he always offered flowers and jewelry and to his ancestors, but never any food. Karna's response was that he was unable to offer food to his ancestors because he didn't know who they were. Lord Indra took pity on him and blessed him with 15 days to come to earth to correct his mistakes. This is how Pitru Paksha came to be celebrated, Karan took this time to donate water and food in memory of his ancestors.
Pitru Paksha Suggestions
Traditionally Rice, and water are offered to the Ancestors.
Any food that your grandparents really liked is also a really good choice: things like coffee, potatoes, a special fruit, etc. Black sesame is also a traditional food that is considered very good to offer.
Starting any work like new studies or projects, or making a big purchase such as a new home or vehicle is generally saved for after this 15 day period.
You can light a candle or ghee lamp and make a prayer or request that your ancestors are freed from any suffering or negative ties. Ho'oponopono can be used, or Paul Selig's statement from the Guides: "I know who you are, I know what you are, I know how you serve. You are Free. You are Free. You are Free."
A certified transformative coach, yoga therapist, author, + adventurer, Kathy has coached people to happier lives for over 20 years. (Has it really been that long?)