The Indian or Vedic calendar is lunar based, unlike the Gregorian calendar. The observances during each month are usually spiritually or religiously based and rooted in deep tradition.
Sunday, September 30, 2012 marks the beginning of two weeks of Pitru Paksha (Pitt-true Puck-shuh), or Shraadh, which is a time dedicated to honoring our ancestors. This includes our blood relatives as well as significant teachers in our lives. It’s a time of remembrance and of offering our gratitude. Indians participate in special rituals and rites during this time. There are specific chants and mantras which are recited during this period.
This is a time when individuals focus on their spiritual practices and meditation. It is typically not a time to commence new ventures or to enter into new agreements. Air travel should also be minimized as much as possible, unless it is for spiritual purposes (i.e. a pilgrimage).
Families pay homage to relatives who have passed on and they do so on the specific phase of the moon (the tithi) which coincides with the day that the person left his/ her body. Special meals are also prepared for these days, according to tradition. Offerings are made to ancestors at the bank of a river.
Pitru Paksha commences on the first day of the waxing (dark phase) Moon in the Vedic lunar month of Bhadrapada each year. Pitru Paksha continues through October 14th for Hawaii, Pacific, Mountain and Central time zones of North America) (or 15th for Eastern time zone in North America and other parts of the world). The festival of Navaratri follows Pitru Paksha.