Mahalaya Amavasya is the new moon day of the Pitru Paksha or Mahalaya Paksha. The dark fortnight between September and October is called the Mahalaya Paksha. This fortnight is considered very auspicious for offering oblations to the departed souls. According to north Indian Purnimanth calendars, Mahalaya Amavasya falls on Ashwin month and according to south Indian calenders it is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada.
Mahalaya Amavasya History
Mahalaya Amvasya is of great significance to Hindus. According to the legend, Karna the hero of Mahabharata was a very generous man and did lot of charity of valuable items. After his death when his soul reached heaven he was offered thousand folds more gold and silver in return of charity he had done on Earth. But he was never offered food. When he asked lord Yama the reason he was told that he could be given whatever he had donated on earth. So he prayed to lord Yama and was granted life for 14 days. During this 14 days he went to the earth and fed the poor and offered oblations of water. Thus these 14 days came to be known as Mahalaya Paksha or pitru paksha.
Mahalaya Amavasya Rituals
It is believed that the offerings made during these fourteen days will benefit all the ancestors whether related to you to not. On this day there is a conjunction of the sun and the moon and the Sun enters the Kanya rashi. It is believed that ancestors descend from their world to live in their descendant’s home during these fourteen days. Each day during the Mahalaya Paksha is ruled by a moon phase and rites are performed on each of these days. If the rite or shraadh is performed in any of these fourteen days the ancestors will be at peace for the rest of year and bestow health, wealth and longevity to the person performing the rites.
The Mahalaya Amvasya day itself is considered the most significant day for performing obsequies and rites because it is believed that rites performed on this day and offerings made will bless your ancestors and will free them from all their sins. Hindus offer food, obsequies and oblations to all departed souls on the Mahalaya Amvasya day. Donating food is considered supreme form of charity and whoever donates food will attain elevated status after death.