Om Namasivaya nama:
I would like to present you another interesting article as part of a Brahmin's family ritual for his ancestors. Many people are being confused and have no idea about Sraadham so the thought came to me to compile a simple guide on this subject. I am sure this will be a helpful tool in your hand. I would like to thank Sri Vaithyanathan and Sri Sriram in helping me to complete this work. I am a firm believer that before taking up any work, it is better to know about what we are doing and its significance.
You may double click link and download the document. Alternatively you can also read through the article as below.
Om Maha Ganapathaye Nama:
Om Maha Saraswathye Nama:
Om Sri Sadgurubhyo Nama:
Om Swaha Swadha Dakshina Deviyai Nama:
Paarvana Homa Sraaddham Brief Guide and Check List – Yajurveda vidhi / Apasthamba Soothram
Sradhayam kriyamanam karma: Yithi = Sraaddham stands for highest level of devotion, love and alertness coupled with sincerity and dedication
One should perform Sraaddham for their ancestors regularly. Sraaddham is performed for the blood relatives (Dhayaathees) who passed away from their family. To perform Sraaddham, one needs to know:
• The exact Thidhi (Prathama till Amavasya or Pournami)
• Paksham (Krishna or Sukla) and
• The three (3) Varga Dhwayha Pithrus name (Paternal and Maternal)
Ideally speaking, the right time to perform Sraaddham is Aparannam (Post lunch time) ; However, considering the present day commitments, post 11:00 am local time is deemed acceptable. Now days, many people perform Sraaddham at early morning, i.e. at 6:00 am etc.. which is not at all allowed as per the Sastras. Pithrus will not be able to accept the offerings given to them at this time of the day. This time is not the prescribed for Pithrus to enter the earth plane. Anyway, it is a shame on us that we are unable to find time to do this very important ritual at the appropriate time prescribed in our Sastras.
According to Vaishnavism, Bhagawan Sri Varaaha Murthy performed the First Sraaddham in Bhaaratha Kandam under the guidance of Sage Bodhayana Rishi (Soothrakari) in a lengthy procedure. However, after some time, Sage Aapasthamban (one of the Soothrakari) concised the lengthy procedure and this is practiced now days. Detailed Sraaddha Niyamam (nomenclature) is well explained in a grantha called ‘Smrithi Mukthaphalam”. Actually Sraaddham should be performed by self rather than with the help of Acharyan/ Vadhyar. However due to limited knowledge and Sraaddham, being a complicated and important ritual requiring perfection and accuracy of the mantras and kriya, a Vadhyar’s help is inevitable in this era. Care must be taken to ensure only Vadhyar’s who are masters in Mantra & Kriya prayogam are engaged to perform this important ritual. Please note that Viswa Deva is accompanying Pithrus (Vasu + Rudra + Adithya by order of Pithru-Pithamaha-Prapithamahan) to the Sraaddha performing place from an unknown loka (it could be pithru loka). Therefore Viswa Deva is the chief deity of Sraaddham. In other words, Three generation of Pithrus are being invited and fed in the form of Brahmanas.
Sraaddhams are conducted in 2 ways, viz:
• Hiranyam and
• Paarvanam (food offering and homam)
Hiranya Sraaddham is generally recommended only for aged and physically ill people. Paarvana Sraaddham is the most important and is the right ritual because in this procedure you have Homam, Feeding and Pinda Pradhanam (3 times feeding through Agni swaroopam, Brahmana Bhojanam & Pinda Swaroopam). During Homam, we offer 2 pindam for Vasu/Pithru, 2 pindam for Rudra/Pithamaha, 2 pindam for Adithya/Prapithamahan and the 7th single pindam for Njnaathy i.e. cousin brothers or Njnaatha-A-Jnaatha pithru Swaroopam ( they are Sahothra Dhaayathees). These procedures do not exist in Hiranya Sraaddham. Therefore Paarvana Sraaddham is considered superior and prime.The rule for Pinda pradhanam are set as follows:
• 3 Pindas for Sama and Rigvedis
• 6 Pindas for Yajurvedi and
• 24 Pindas for Bhodhayana Soothra followers.
Also note that unless one does Paarvana Sraaddham, the family will not get Pithru Sesham. Consuming Pithru Sesham is considered to be main progeny factor of the family. Only the Kartha (ideally the eldest male member of the family, being Seemantha Puthran, has the right to perform Sraaddham). The Dhayaathis should also partake in this ritual (even if they are not formally invited by the Kartha). Sri Vaishnava Thenkalai Sampradayas may eat any Pithru Sesham in the name of Ishta Pandhi. Yajur Vedis can perform Sraaddham even without Dharma Pathni (lawful wife) whereas others can’t perform Sraaddham without their Dharma Pathni. During her Rithu Darsana period, she can join only after the 5th Day bath after performing Punyaha vachanam (cleansing).
Please note all soul’s ultimate destination is reaching Sivalokam or Vishnulokam. Sometimes some souls, due to their holy credit/punyam, directly reach their deity’s lokam immediately after leaving the body and others may wander around in some loka (yama lokam / pithru lokam if final rites are performed; otherwise the soul may wander in Pretha lokam ). We have no authority or knowledge to assume or justify or decide which lokam the departed soul has reached. Therefore, with a belief that Viswa Devan will bring the pithrus in front of us on the Thidhi day and serve/offer them with food through Agni devan with the help of Swaha & Swadha Devi, we have to perform Sraaddham. Even if they have reached God’s lotus feet(assuming the soul attained Sayoojya mukthi), such Sraaddha phalam (credit) will eventually reach their own Dhaayathees, known and unknown Pithrus.
Every male child must perform Sraaddham. If they are unable to perform Sraaddham, they should join the eldest brother/kartha. Kartha’s dharma pathni is required for raising Aoupasana Agni (Vichinna Aoupasana Agni). All sisters must help in preparing the food.
Sandhya Vandanam and Gayathtri Japam is a must for the Kartha, without which the Pithrus will neither accept his offerings nor will God accept his pooja/worship.
We would like to provide a brief guide about Sraaddham below.
In Apasthamba Soothram,”Manthranthe Prayoga: ” this means that all offerings should be given only after the full chanting of the mantra. In other words, offer the Dravya only after you have said the word “Swaha”.
1. Vrutham (stay away from mundane activities) / fast the day before the Sraaddham; one must have only one meal on the Sraaddham day (orikel/oru pozuthu) which is the meal after Brahmana Bhojanam; Meal consists of salt and sour (pulippu taste)
2. Keep your stomach empty (complete daily ablutions & sanitations - sodhana)
3. Gayathri chanting while Brahmana bhojanam a must
4. Finish your Pratha Sandhya vandanam and Madhyahnikam before Sraaddham
5. Chant 1008 Gayathri Maha Manthra Japam the day before on account of Samvathsara Prayaschitham (this is supplement to Avani Avittam)
1. No sexual activities the day before and the day of the Sraaddham
2. No used cloths (Vizhuppu) to be worn
3. No need to do pratha kaala deva pooja at home until the Sraaddham gets over
4. No un-wanted talks while preparing food, maintain total silence while preparing and serving food; No spit or saliva should fall in the food prepared for Pithrus
5. Do not ask Brahmana whether you liked the food. The Brahmana should not say “I liked the food” which means neither have you offered food to Pithrus nor the Pithrus have eaten the food offered!
6. Avoid Thilaka dharanam before Sraaddham ( combing hair or applying of any other form of beautifying products should be avoided; Vibhoothi in particular to be avoided because if Vibhoothi particles fall on the pindam or in the Koorcham, the pithru may attain mukthi instantaneously ; whereas Sandal paste usually may not fall easily. Also Pithrus generally shy away from well dressed, ornamented Karthas)
7. Items prepared or put to use for Sraaddha cooking should be kept separately until Brahmana Bhojanam, failing which it will be considered offering an already consumed preparation to Brahmanas (in other words signifies feeding the Brahmanas with the left over, known as Sesham)
Some important facts and rules:
1. Every family has different customs and procedures for conducting Sraaddham; Therefore the number of Brahmanas also differs. However, there should be a minimum of 3 Brahmanas (one Pithruswaroopa, one Pithru pithamaha and one Sraaddha Samrakshaka Prathyaksha Mahavishnu: total 3 Brahmanas)
2. Some families’ use Vishnu Padam for Swami Elai, while some use Sandal wood piece
3. If your Acharyan/Vadhyar is not a family vadhyar, then it is advisable to give him the list of names and the gothrams of Dhayathees/Ancestors in writing well in advance to avoid making mistakes while performing the Sraaddham. This has to be from Paternal and Maternal side. The scenarios are:
Sraaddham for Father and none of the grand father or mother is alive, however Kartha’s own Mother is alive then:
Paternal side: Father, Grand Father and Great Grand Father
Grand Mother, Great Grand Mother and Greatest Grand Mother
Maternal side: Grand father and Grand Mother (assuming that both are not alive)
Please note that Acharyan will align / help in identifying the right sequence, therefore it is sufficient if you give only the names and gothrams
Note: It is our duty to remember and keep the list of 3 gothra dhayathees of both sides (Paternal and Maternal).
Paarvana Sraaddham consist of the following rituals:
1. Inviting Acharyan/ Vadhyar and Brahmanas very well in advance (advisable to remind the Vadhyar/Brahmanas 2-3 days before the Sraaddham)
2. Welcoming Brahmanas on the day of Sraaddha Graham/house
3. Offering oil (Gingelly oil) for Abhyanga Snanam, Noothana Vasthram (Double Veshti + Uthareeyam)
4. Since Kartha is offering oil for Abhyanga snanam, he has to take another bath and wear a new/ Noothana Vasthram – Pancha Gacham, if Grihasthan. No dressing or makeup is allowed ; Applying thilakam on the forehead is prohibited. Also remove all kind of metal pieces from the body except Pavithra Mothiram (Ring) if it is a practice and do not comb your hair and don’t pose in front of mirror and admire your beauty.
5. Performing Vichinna Aoupasanam (many of us do not continue Aoupasanam, which is performed on the marriage day and as a result the Agni is detached from us; hence we must now re-invoke Aoupasanagni for the Homam).
6. Paada Prakshalanam / ablution for the Brahmanas (Vasu, Rudra, Adithya Swaroopam). Usually Pithru and One above him/her Pra-pitha Mahan/Mahi and Sraaddha Samrakshaka Mahavishnu followed by Prokshanam (except Pithru Paadam).
7. Perform Sraaddha Homam
8. Brahmana Bhojanam
9. Pithru Tharpanam and Pinda Pradhanam followed by Pinda offered to Crow.
10. Pradakshina Namaskaram ( youngest to lead followed by elders) and Upa Jeevanartham Dakshina; Please note that Brahmana is actually sacrificing his welfare for the good of Kartha’s family by accepting the Sraaddha Bhojanam, whereby he incurs the demerits of the Kartha & his family; Hence it is important to compensate the Brahaman appropriately for this noble deed. After Sraaddha Bhojanam, the Brahmana is not allowed to conduct or involve in any other work. Hence in order to protect the Brahmana family’s livelihood & welfare, the Kartha should liberally and generously give Dakshina to the Brahmana.
11. Agni Upasthanam
13. Ceremonial send-off of Brahmanas by spreading the Uthareeyam on the floor (in other words Brahmanas crossing the Uthareeyam laid on the floor). This is followed by applying of the Paada Dhooli (from the Brahmanas feet on Uthareeyam) on the head of Kartha; This symbolically signifies the direct protection of Pithrus on Kartha/family members. In present times, it is considered as red carpet reception upto Brahmanas home (in earlier days Brahmanas would be residing in the same street/area)
14. Kartha wearing Raksha / Thilaka Dharanam
15. Lighting the lamp for Upasana Moorthy (home temple)
16. Brahma Yagnam
Small note about the Sraaddham under the following heads:
3. Sraaddha utensils (Paathram)
4. Sraaddha food preparation
5. Functional matters
1. Thulasi Pathram / leaves (10 pieces)
2. Akshathams (white raw rice), please clean the rice with water and dry it out. Approximately 50 grams.
3. Sandal Paste (please grind from an original sandal wood rather than using readymade sandal powder ).
4. Dharba grass, koorcham, pavithram (Acharyan will provide). Please note that Apara kriya pavithram is different from Deva kriya, i.e. the numbers differ. Pavithram made with single darbha is used for Pretha karma; Pavithram made with two darbha is used for Pithru karma and with three darbha is used for Deva Pooja
5. Upaveetham / Poonal (Acharyan will provide)
6. Tharpana bowl (keep one big and one small)
7. A big vessel full of water for Tharpanam
8. Pancha paathram (preferably pancha lokam or the one usually used in your daily routine rituals)
9. Gingelly oil (100 ml) and bowls to pour oil (number of bowls depends on the number of Brahmanas invited for the Sraaddham).
10. Cheekai thool / soap nut powder (one packet, to be divided as per the number of Brahmanas)
11. Black sesame / Yellu (please wash with water and dry it out), around 10 grams.
12. Sesame balls made out of jaggery (Yellu urundai) for the function ( the number may be 4 to 6 pieces, however prepare more for everyone to consume as Pithru Sesham)
13. Betel leafs + Pakku (around 50 numbers)
14. Brand new white clothes (double veshti) and uthareeyam*
15. Wooden seats (Asana / Palaka), ideally those who wear 3rd set of Upaveetham do not require separate seat; However scholars differ in interpretation.
16. Varatty (made out of clean cow dung), dry wood scraps / Chethool
17. Match box
18. Hand fan / Visari for Homa Agni
19. Samithu / Dry Plasa tree branches – one bundle
20. Camphor box
21. Cow Ghee 250 grams – liquid form, ideally we should melt it from pure butter at home
22. A bowl full of raw rice + one plantain + betel leaves + paaku + dakshina
23. 6 pieces of bricks + 2 kg sand bag to prepare the platform for Homam
24. Vasthram for Brahmanas : Unbleached double veshti (9x5 or 10x6 yards/ gajam)*
*It has to be Madi veshti i.e. the day before Sraaddham immediately after having a bath, please dip the veshtis to be offered for Brahmanas in water and put it for drying; Next day, after your bath, collect those dried veshti and twist the same and then handover to Brahmanas.
1. First preparation of the Sraaddham day should be the Sweet Sesame balls made out of jaggery
2. Urud Daal Vadai
3. A full bowl of curd (from fresh cow milk)
4. Sweet Appam (and many other food items included during the first sraaddham of the Pithru like Suhiyan, Uppittu, Bholi etc…)
5. Vegetable curries, please note that all curries must be in solid/condensed form i.e. no Thoran/pooriyal/dis-integrated style. Some families may or may not use coconut preparations. Also note, there are restrictions in using certain vegetables. Kindly check with your family elders.
6. Fresh fruits (jackfruit, banana, mango, pomegranate etc..)
7. Banana leaves / Bhojana Paathram 2 each (approximately 2 ½ to 3 foot length – naak elai) + 2 Dhonnai / cups made out of the same leaf.
8. Cow Ghee – appropriate quantity
9. Pure honey
10. Ginger/Inji & raw mango cut pickle
11. Inji thuvayal
12. Cooked raw rice / Pacha Arisi (no boiled rice allowed since it is already cooked once)
13. Two Koottu + Two Curries + Two other vegetable preparation (it has to be even in number) and Kozhambu, Rasam, Payasam etc. ( deep fry chips, appalam, papad etc and other items not made in own house should not be served )
14. Drinkable hot/cold water
SRAADDHA UTENSILS (PAATHRAM)
1. Adukku - 4 Numbers half litre capacity
2. Annam Panai - 1 Number should be suitable to cook 2 kg rice (assuming 3 Brahmanas)
3. Spoons – 10 Numbers of different sizes
4. Cups – 4 Numbers, each of quarter litre capacity
5. Glasses for drinking water – 5 Numbers
6. Thaambalam – 2 Numbers medium size (serving and standby)
Note: It is advisable to buy one set of exclusive utensils only for Sraaddham ritual. This will avoid confusion and enhance the purity of the offerings . Ideally vessels/utensils made of stone carved (kalchatty),wooden, copper, silver or brass should be used; Steel/iron content vessels should not be used at all, even for drinking water etc...
According to Sastras, one should start accumulating things immediately after the completion of the current Sraaddham day itself; this means we have one full year to collect the best item for next Sraaddham.
SRAADDHA FOOD PREPARATION:
General rules to remember and follow before involving in the process of Sraaddha Food Preparation:
1. Must have full bath (including head) and wear Madi Vasthram (washed and dried), ideally 9 Gajam. Do not put Kumkum on your forehead ; Instead put yellow turmeric past if you are a sumangali or kanyaka; Sisters and daughter-in-laws should participate in preparing the food
2. Please ensure that your stomach is empty and sanitations are completed
3. Do not talk while cooking
4. Whatever you had offered in the first Sraaddham (12th Day or Sapindeekaranam day) the same items must be used for all future Sraaddham.
5. Please clean the gas stove or any other types of heating equipments before you start cooking
6. The water used for the food preparation should not be consumed by anyone until the Sraaddha offering is over
Here are some mandatory instructions for Sraaddha Sapaadu:
1. Tuvar Dal should not be used at all. In place of Tuvar Dal, only Moong Dal (broken) i.e Pasiparupu to be used. It has to be dry roasted before use
2. Do not use Red Chillis or Green Chillis. The only spice that can be used is pepper and jeera
3. The vegetables that can be used are: Bittergourd (must), Vazhakai/raw banana (must), choice of vegetables are cucumber, vazhai thandu, avarakai, payathangai (long beans), padavalam/Podalangai (snake gourd), chenai (yam), chembu etc.
4. Ideally all items must be freshly purchased rather than using the left over at home
1. Curd Pachadi / Kichadi
2. Sweet Pachadi
3. 2 Vegetable curries (Koottu)
4. Parikai Pitla as Kozhambu
7. Payasam (in some houses Milk payasam and other Jaggery payasam served)
8. Parupu for serving on the leaf
9. Curry leaves thuvayal or ginger + coconut grinded Thuvayal
10. Cut mango (mangai slices/keeru) (optional: only if raw mango is available)
11. Ginger slices/keeru
12. Bakshanam: Vadai (urad vadai only, no dal vadai). Please note that in some houses there are other items such as Suhiyan, Uppittu, Adhirasam and Mysoorpakku etc. that are additionally prepared and offered
13. Ghee Appam
15. 3 Fruits – (elaichi banana, mango, jackfruit). If these fruits are not available, you could just serve elaichi banana.
Detailed Recipe of each of the menu items:
1. Curd Pachadi:
Ingredients: Cucumber, Rai (mustard), Coconut, Curd
Method: Cut cucumber into small pieces/grate them. Add curd and salt. Grind coconut with a little rai. You could make a little extra as this is the same masala that is used for Sweet Pachadi.
Garnish with rai only.
2. Sweet Pachadi:
Ingredients: Tamarind, Vazhathandu, Rai, Coconut
Method: Cut Vazhathandu into small pieces. Cook in tamarind water. Add the same coconut and rai masala that you have prepared earlier. Garnish with rai only.
Make the garnishing common for vegetables, Parikai pitla and curry leaves thuvayal (you can use the same garnishing for all preparations). The garnishing is rai, curry leaves, coconut and urad dal.
Also prepare a powder mixture of pepper and jeera which can be used for the vegetables, pitla, rasam and vadai.
One of the vegetables has to be vazhakai curry
The other vegetable could be Padavalam/Podalangai.
Method: Cook padavalam and vazhakai separately in the rice cooker with haldi and salt. Add a little bit of water. After it is cooked, remove from cooker. Then take a wok and add the garnish (rai, curry leaves, coconut and urad dal) and pepper jeera powder to the vazhakai. These vegetables will be slightly moist and not separate as we normally make it in the regular day to day cooking. Follow the similar preparation for padavalam (snake guard).
You could boil Pasiparupu separately in the cooker in large quantities for the following dishes:
Serving parupu for the elai (leaf), Parikai Pitlai and for Rasam.
4. Parikai Pitla:
Ingredients: Tamarind, Parikai, jeera & pepper powder mixture, coconut and garnish as mentioned above ( rai, curry leaves, coconut and urad dal)
Cut parikai (bitter guard) into small pieces. Add the parikai to tamarind water. Add salt, turmeric powder and Jeera & Pepper powder and boil until it is fully cooked. Add Pasiparupu and the garnish. Grind some coconut and add it to this.
Ingredients: Tamarind, Pasiparupu theluvu, Jeera Pepper Powder, Turmeric and Salt
Method: To tamarind water add salt, turmeric powder and jeera & pepper powder. After it boils, add the pasiparupu theluvu (only the water) . Garnish with rai and jeera.
While cooking rice for the Brahmanas, before you drain the water, take some cooked rice with starch water in a vessel. Add jaggery and elaichi powder to it. After this cools down, add milk to it and mix well. Or prepare Payasam in the usual way. Avoiding white sugar preparation is recommended.
7. Curry Leaves Thuvayal:
Ingredients: Curry leaves, ginger, jaggery, and the garnish (rai, curry leaves, coconut and urad dal) and salt to taste. Mix all these and grind it in the mixer to make it into a paste/chutney
8. Mangai slices/Keeru:
Ingredients: Raw Mango, Salt
Cut raw mango into small pieces. Add salt to it. This is optional/ to be prepared only if raw mango is available
9. Ginger slices/keeru:
Ingredients: Ginger, lemon, salt
Cut Ginger into small pieces. Add salt and lemon juice to it.
10. Urad Vadai.
Grind Urad dal and to it add salt, ginger, curry leaves and pepper jeera powder. Fry them in oil.
Grind raw rice plus jaggery and one banana, if required with little water. The liquid batter to be deep fried in pure ghee.
Dry roast white til or black (sesame) until it splutters or the aroma is released. Make jaggery paagu. To this add the til and make small balls.
Although you should prepare everything on the morning of the Sraaddha day, you may do the following preparations the previous day itself after your bath if allowed in your family:
1. Dry roast Pasiparupu.
2. Dry roast White Til
3. You could powder Jeera and Pepper
4. Coconut scrap roasted to be mixed with side dishes (For Kerala people this is unavoidable).
5. You could cut all the vegetables the previous night
Note: Please seek the blessings of elders at home before start of food preparations and take their advice in case of any doubts to avoid confusion.
Please consider the following points before Sraaddham:
1. Please keep in mind to invite / book your Acharyan / Vadhyar that you are comfortable with especially from the same custom/culture well in advance. For example if you are a Kerala Iyer, prefer a Kerala Acharyan/ Vadhyar and if you are a Tamil, Andhra, Kannadiga, accordingly maintain family norms and practices. This will avoid confusion in the way Sraaddham is performed.
2. It is advisable to fix the fees/dakshina well in advance to avoid quarrel, disappointments and arguments with Acharyan ( Sraaddham is an ideal opportunity to give charity as this will please Pithrus and they will shower maximum blessings to the entire family) Please avoid steel vessels as Pithrus are scared of Iron Metal due to their magnetic current
3. Certain vegetable are totally prohibited especially Onion, Garlic, Cabbage, Potato etc..
4. In addition to above, one must avoid the vegetable that was renounced at Punya Kshethram such as Kasi/Rameswaram etc..
5. Pithru sesham should not be shared with outsiders other than Dhayathees. In case you want to offer food to friends and relatives on account of remembering ancestors day, please prepare a separate set of food items and offer it to them. It is highly recommended to visit Orphanages, old homes and offer food in memory of the ancestors. Ideally one can pre-book such arrangements for the memorable day.
6. No one including vadhyar / Brahmana or Kartha to use mobile phones irrespective of the urgency. It is advisable that somebody takes the message and passes the same to the concerned person after Sraaddham. Any unwanted talks during Sraaddham will create inconvenience to the ancestors due to the cosmological radiation effect. Please note that they are watching every moment of the Kriya.
*** Maathrudevo bava *** Pithrudevo bava *** AAcharyandevo bava *** Athidhidevo bava ***
Om Thath Sath
Prepared and Authored by
R V Venkiteswaran (Venky)
Web: www.venky.tk / firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervised and Authenticated by
Sri. P. Vaidhyanathan (Vaithy) – Vadhyar S/o Brahmsri M. S. Pranatharthihara Sasthrigal, Trichi.
Sri. G Sriram
Dubai: 18th January 2012
Disclaimer: Please note that this note is intended to serve as a quick reference guide. Kindly pay due attention and importance to one’s family customs and practices and consult your respective Acharyan/Vadhyar in case of doubts or more clarity. Any suggestions or comments to improve this note are welcome.