Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Shraddho or obsequies, is the Hindu ritual of treating people to feasts in the name of the deceased. Traditionally sons or relations of the deceased observe Shraddho. But one can hold the Shraddho even of oneself before one's death. Shraddho can be of three types: adyaShraddho (early obsequies), abhyudayika or brddhi Shraddho (emerging obsequies offerings) and sapindikarana (yearly obsequies rites). The early obsequies are held after purification from defilement and lasts for 11, 15 or 30 days depending on the caste. During the period, relations of the deceased only take vegetables, protein-less food, and sunned rice without salt. Sons of the deceased shave their head on the day prior to Shraddho and observe various rituals. On the day of the obsequies, they treat relations, neighbours etc to a feast prepared according to their means. In the past, moneyed people invited thousand of guests to Shraddho feast. But this has changed. People also donate clothes and other items to Brahmins and relations.
Shraddho, observed to seek blessings from the ancestors prior to marriage or upanayana (holy thread ceremony), is known as brddhi Shraddho. The sapindikarana Shraddho is held a year after a death. There are three other types of Shraddho: Shraddho observed on some occasions like Mahalaya (new moon of the Bangla month Ashvin) or marking the death falling on some special occasions is known as parvana Shraddho (festival obsequies). Food is usually offered to the manes (pindadan) in the name of three generations on parvana Shraddho. The Shraddho meant for a single person at a time is known as ekoddishta Shraddho (obsequies for one)
There is another type of Shraddho called Anvashtaka, but this is not observed widely. It is thought that it is proper to hold Shraddho at the altar of VISHNU in the holy place of Gaya. The rich in most cases observe the Shraddho of their parents in Gaya. SHULAPANI's Shraddhoviveka and Raghunandan's Shraddhotattva are considered authoritative texts regarding Shraddho by Hindus in Bengal.
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