In Hinduism, Shraddha ritual is an important observance. On this day, devotees worship for the souls of their dead ancestors in order to grant them liberation and peace. Shraddha puja is perform during the ‘Pitru Paksha’ (the fortnight dedicated to ancestors) during the ‘Krishna Paksha’ (the waning phase of moon) in the month of ‘Ashwin’ in the traditional Hindu calendar. Bharani Shraddha is an auspicious ritual during the Pitru Paksha at the time when the ‘Bharani’ Nakshatra exists during the ‘Aparahna Kala’. Most likely this Nakshatra prevails during the ‘Chaturthi’ (4th day) tithi or ‘Panchami’ (5th day) tithi and is referred as ‘Chauth Bharani’ and ‘Bharani Panchami’ respectively. The Shraddha ceremony of the deceased family member can also be done on Bharani asterism along with the tithi that marks the actual date of death. This liberates the soul of the dead and grants them peace in eternity. Hindu devotees generally perform the Bharani Shraddha in Kasi (Varanasi), Gaya and Rameshwaram.
Rituals during Bharani Shraddha:
The Bharani Nakshatra Shraddha is normally performed once after the death of the individual, however as per ‘Dharmasindhu’ it can be done each year. This ritual is considered to be very auspicious and important therefore the person observing must maintain the sanctity of the ritual. The person, especially the male head in the family perform several rites and pujas for the satisfaction and liberation of the deceased soul. ‘Pinda Pooja’, ‘Pinda Visarjana’ and ‘Brahmana Suvasini’ along with other rituals are performed under the guidance of a knowledgeable priest. The person doing the Bharani Shraddha should avoid haircuts, shave and must keep a control over his senses. After the completion of ‘Tarpan’, Brahmins are offered ‘saatvik’ food, sweets, clothes and dakshina. This ritual is very important as according to the Hindu mythology, the food eaten by the Brahmins, reach the deceased souls. On Bharani Shraddha, one must also feed same food to crows as they are believed to be the messenger from Lord Yama. Besides crow, dog and cow are also fed. It is believed that by performing the Bharani Shraddha rituals religiously and with full devotion, offers peace to the liberated soul and they in return bless their descendants with peace, protection and prosperity.
Significance of Bharani Shraddha:
The importance of Bharani Shraddha and other forms of Shraddha puja is mentioned in the several Hindu Puranas like ‘Matysa Purana’, ‘Agni Purana’ and ‘Garuda Purana’. Bharani Shraddha is an important day during the Pitru Paksha and is also known as ‘Maha Bharani Shraddha’. This is so because the ‘Bharani’ Nakshatra is ruled by Yama, who is the God of Death. It has been stated that the merits of Bharani Shraddha is same as those of Gaya Shraddha’. Moreover it is believed that performing ancestral rites on a chaturthi or panchami tithi during the Bharani asterism holds special significance. After the Mahalaya Amavasya, this day is the most observed day during the Pitru Shraddha ritual.