Vedic astrology is based on the Indian or Vedic calendar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Vedic calendar is a lunar based system. The observances during each month are usually spiritually or religiously based and rooted in deep tradition.
For those residing in the U.S., Thursday, September 19, 2013 marks the beginning of the time period known as Pitru Paksha (Pitt-true Puck-shuh), or Shraadh. It begins on the 20th in India and the remainder of the world. Pitru Paksha is a two week period of 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. Many offer pujas or yajnas (fire rituals) for their departed ancestors. 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 Indian 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. Bhadraphada is the month in which the Moon is full in the nakshatra of Purva Bhadrapada or Uttara Bhadrapada. Pitru Paksha continues through October 4, 2013 for the U.S., U.K., and India. It ends on October 5, 2013 for the remainder of the globe. The festival of Navaratri follows Pitru Paksha. Navaratri begins on October 5 in the U.S., the U.K, and India. The rest of the world begins celebrating Navaratri on October 6. Exact dates of the festival in your region may be found on the website mypanchang.