13 October 2023

Sarva Pitru Amavasya: A Day of Ancestral Remembrance

Numerous festivals and observances have great meaning in the complex tapestry of Indian culture and spirituality. “Sarva Pitru Amavasya,” often referred to as “Mahalaya Amavasya,” stands out among them. Usually occurring in September or October, this holy day falls on the new moon day of the month of Bhadrapada. This year, it graces us on Saturday, October 14, 2023. Deeply ingrained in Hindu beliefs and practices, Sarva Pitru Amavasya is a day devoted to honoring and paying reverence to one’s ancestors.                  


Significance of Sarva Pitru Amavasya

  1. Ancestral Reverence: Sarva Pitru Amavasya is a day when Hindus express gratitude and love for their forefathers. It is believed that on this day, the souls of departed ancestors visit their descendants. By performing rituals and ceremonies, families seek to invoke their blessings and ensure their peaceful journey in the afterlife.                          
  2. Tarpana and Shraddha: The central observance of Sarva Pitru Amavasya revolves around the rituals of “Tarpana” and “Shraddha.” Tarpana involves offering water, sesame seeds, and rice to the ancestors while reciting their names and lineage. This act nourishes the souls of the departed. Shraddha is a more elaborate ceremony to honor ancestors, involving the preparation of special dishes and offerings.              
  3. Religious Significance: Sarva Pitru Amavasya holds immense religious importance, as it is a day when Hindus believe that the souls of their ancestors can intercede on their behalf with the divine. It is an opportunity for individuals to seek blessings, forgiveness, and guidance from their forefathers.
  4. Resolving Ancestral Karma: In Hinduism, it is believed that individuals carry the karma (deeds) of their ancestors. Sarva Pitru Amavasya is seen as an auspicious time to perform acts of charity, seek forgiveness for any wrongdoings committed by ancestors, and help in resolving their karma. This is believed to benefit both the living and the departed souls.  


Observing Sarva Pitru Amavasya

Bathing in sacred rivers and offering food, including rice, sesame seeds, and sweets to ancestors, are common practices. Tarpana and Shraddha, involving the recitation of ancestral names and the offering of water and food, are significant rituals. Acts of charity, such as donating food, clothing, or money to the needy, are also encouraged. These acts are seen as a way to earn merit and accumulate good karma.


The Essence of Sarva Pitru Amavasya

Sarva Pitru Amavasya embodies the essence of remembering, respecting, and reconnecting with our roots. It serves as a reminder of the profound impact our ancestors have had on our lives, shaping our traditions, values, and identities. By acknowledging their contributions and seeking their blessings, we express gratitude for the heritage they bestowed upon us.

As the new moon graces the night sky on this auspicious day, families come together to remember, honor, and connect with their ancestors. Pitru Moksha Amavasya serves as a timeless bridge between the living and the departed, a tradition that has endured for centuries, fostering a sense of unity, continuity, and reverence for our roots.                  

According to Drik Panchang, this year’s Pitru Paksha, the fortnight dedicated to ancestors, is observed from September 29 to October 14. Sarva Pitru Amavasya, falling within this period, offers a unique opportunity to perform rituals for all ancestors, even those whose specific dates for Shradh might be unknown or inaccessible. This all-encompassing event enables blessings to be bestowed upon the whole lineage of departed forebearers, securing their eternal peace and well-being.            



Sarva Pitru Amavasya is a day to remember, honor, and connect with our ancestors, emphasizing the significance of family, ancestry, and the enduring bond that links the living and the departed. It is a tradition that underscores the importance of gratitude, respect, and unity across generations. As we observe this sacred day, we reflect on the values passed down through time and seek blessings for a harmonious and prosperous life. Sarva Pitru Amavasya keeps alive a tradition that has endured for centuries, reminding us of the enduring power of love and remembrance.