By Swami Harshananda
Performing religious rites in honor of the departed ancestors and to satisfy their spirits is a universal phenomenon. Such rites are called ‘śrāddha’ (literally, that which is performed with śraddhā or faith).
The anvaṣtakā, also called anvaṣṭakya, is a śrāddha rite performed after the aṣṭakā rite (anu = after). After establishing the fire and erecting a shed round it, offerings like boiled rice, pudding, preparations made out of curds and liquor and scum of boiled rice are spread over barhis (sacrificial grass). After offering some portion into the fire, the rest are dedicated to the manes and their wives. The meat of an animal immolated on the aṣṭakā day should be cooked and offered to the brāhmaṇas invited for the ceremony. The aṣṭakā type of śrāddhas gradually went out of vogue.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore