Vedic astrology or Jyotish 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. One upcoming annual event is Pitru Paksha 2014. September 9 marks the beginning of the time period known as Pitru Paksha (Pitt-true Puck-shuh) , or Shraadh. 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.
Pitru Paksha 2014 is 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, which are performed by Brahmins, or Vedic priests. There are specific chants and mantras which are recited during this period. Our ancestors contribute to our karmic legacy and it is important to honor their departed souls. Typically in Vedic astrology, the new Moon of each month (amavasya) is also good for honoring your ancestors.
Individuals focus on their spiritual practices and meditation during PItru Paksha. 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 puja is done for ancestors who have been departed more than one year ago. For those who have left within the past year, a Pitru yajna is performed, which is a different ritual to ensure that the soul travels safely on its journey.
Pitru Paksha 2014 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 2014 continues through September 23. The festival of Navaratri directly follows Pitru Paksha. These are the nine days celebrating the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.