Pitru paksh is a time set in a Hindu calendar each year to express our thanks to our ancestors, to all those who have helped us through life to become self-reliant. No human being can, by himself, learn and groom himself into a well-rounded, educated, cultured person capable of achieving great heights in the material or spiritual world. All accept that we are born helpless little mammals crying to be fed, crying to be cleaned by our parents. Thereafter, almost all parents nurture a baby with love, care, and protection till the little one can stand up on his own and proudly face the world.
This time is to express our thanks to those great souls who nourished and protected us when we were helpless. Anna Daan (distribution of food) is always considered a great way to satisfy the hunger pangs of anyone.
Food always satiates with a fullness and a feeling of completeness and contentment .With the understanding that all creatures are the children of the same great father, Hindus feel obliged to look after all of Lord’s creatures. Considering that the Lord in me is the same consciousness in all, Hindus feed all in sheer gratefulness, and family feeling. During shraddha (time for ancestors’ worship) Hindus feed even animals, birds, insects and of course human beings.
They engage in acts of kindness and donate for causes that were dear to the departed souls. Sarvey bhavantu sukhinah, may all creatures be happy, is a common Hindu prayer, and towards that is aimed this noble act which gives great satisfaction to an individual as he offers this act to the subtle memory of the loved ones. This is not an act of mourning, but a celebration of their noble lives lived so fruitfully. It is a prayer to the lord to enable one to care for all.
Prarthna Saran is President, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.