By Swami Harshananda
It is believed that these forefathers (pitṝs) continue to exist in a subtle body at a different plane (pitṝloka) and when propitiated through appropriate rites can bestow on their descendants worldly prosperity and even spiritual benefits.
The propitiating rite is called śrāddha, since it is offered with śraddhā (faith). Of the several śrāddhas, ābhyudayika-śrāddha is particularly connected with abhyudaya (worldly well-being). It is performed on the auspicious occasions like
- The birth of children
- Marriage of their children
- Commencement of a charitable act such as the dedication of a well or tank or park to the public.
Unlike the other śrāddhas which are solemn, this śrāddha is a joyous occasion. Hence certain changes have been effected in its performance. For instance:
- It is done in the morning and not in the afternoon.
- The yajñopavīta (sacred cord) is worn in the usual way and not from right to left.
- The mantra ‘svadhā,’ which is a must in other śrāddhas is not used.
- Yava grains (barley) are used as the obligatory material instead of sesamum.
This śrāddha is sometimes identified with Nāndiśrāddha or Vṛddhiśrāddha.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore