From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Preta literally means ‘one who has gone away from here’.

This word is generally used to indicate the disembodied spirit of a dead person, especially during the first ten days after death. In order to free it from that state, a handful of water mixed with sesame has to be offered to the deceased on a stone placed on kuśa grass[1] and one large pirida[2] is to be offered on kuśa grass everyday for ten days.

The word is also used to indicate a ghost, generally the spirit of a great sinner. Such ghosts, which are called bhutas, pretas and piśācas are supposed to be in the retinue of the deities Rudra and Kālī.


  1. Kuśa grass means Poa cynosuroides.
  2. Pirida means the rice-ball.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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