Mahalaya Amavasya , know its importance , foods to have and avoid during this day

Mahalaya Amavasya is a Hindu festival that falls on the new moon day of the Bhadrapada month, according to the Amavasyant calendar followed in South India. It is also known as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitra Moksha Amavasya or Pitru Amavasya. It is a day dedicated to paying homage and expressing gratitude to our ancestors, who have contributed to our life in various ways. It also marks the end of the 15-day period of Shraddha rituals, which are performed for the departed souls of the family.

Significance of Mahalaya Amavasya

Mahalaya Amavasya has a great religious and spiritual significance in Hinduism. It is believed that on this day, the souls of our ancestors visit the earth and bless their descendants. It is also considered as an auspicious day to perform Pitru Tarpan and Pind Daan, which are rituals of offering water and food to the ancestors. These rituals are done to seek their forgiveness, peace and salvation. It is said that by performing these rituals, one can free their ancestors from the cycle of birth and death, and help them attain Moksha or liberation.

History and Origin of Mahalaya Amavasya

The origin of Mahalaya Amavasya can be traced back to the ancient Hindu scriptures, such as the Puranas and the Vedas. According to one legend, when Lord Brahma created the universe, he also created some beings called Pitrus, who were assigned the task of helping him in his work. However, they became proud and arrogant, and neglected their duties. As a result, they were cursed by Lord Brahma to suffer in hell until they receive offerings from their descendants on earth. Hence, Mahalaya Amavasya became the day when the Pitrus are appeased and liberated from their curse.

Another legend relates Mahalaya Amavasya to the epic Mahabharata. It is said that after the Kurukshetra war, King Yudhishthira performed a grand sacrifice called Ashwamedha Yagna to atone for his sins. During this sacrifice, he saw many of his ancestors and relatives who had died in the war, but were still wandering in the lower realms due to their unfulfilled desires. He asked Lord Krishna how he could help them attain peace and happiness. Lord Krishna advised him to perform Shraddha rituals for them on the new moon day of Bhadrapada month, which came to be known as Mahalaya Amavasya.

Mahalaya Amavasya is followed by Hindus across India, especially in South India. On this day, people wake up early in the morning and take a bath in a river or a lake. They then perform Pitru Tarpan by offering water mixed with black sesame seeds, rice grains, barley and Kusha grass to their ancestors. They also perform Pind Daan by offering balls of cooked rice mixed with ghee, honey and milk to their ancestors. They then invite Brahmins or priests to their homes and offer them food and clothes as a mark of respect. They also donate food, clothes, money and other items to the poor and needy as a way of charity.

The items used in Tarpana ritual are water, black sesame seeds, rice grains, barley and Kusha grass. These items have both symbolic and scientific relevance in the ritual.

Water is the most essential element for life and it represents purity, fluidity and compassion. Water is also the medium through which the ancestors are invoked and satisfied. Water has the property of absorbing the vibrations of the mantras and transferring them to the ancestors. Water also helps in cleansing the body and mind of the performer.

Black sesame seeds are considered as sacred seeds that have the power to pacify the souls of the ancestors. Sesame seeds are rich in oil and calcium and they represent nourishment, strength and longevity. Sesame seeds also have a cooling effect on the body and help in balancing the heat generated by the ritual.

Rice grains are the staple food for most Hindus and they represent prosperity, abundance and fertility. Rice grains are offered to the ancestors as a sign of gratitude and respect. Rice grains also have a soothing effect on the mind and help in calming the emotions.

Barley is a type of cereal that is considered as auspicious and sacred in Hinduism. Barley is associated with Lord Vishnu, who is the preserver of life and the protector of dharma. Barley is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of protection, stability and harmony. Barley also has a high nutritional value and helps in improving digestion and immunity.

Kusha grass is a type of grass that is considered as holy and sacred in Hinduism. Kusha grass is associated with Lord Brahma, who is the creator of the universe and the source of all knowledge. Kusha grass is used to make mats or rings on which the performer sits or wears during the ritual. Kusha grass acts as an insulator and prevents the loss of energy from the body. Kusha grass also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and helps in preventing infections.

Special Foods Prepared During Mahalaya Amavasya

Mahalaya Amavasya is a day when people prepare sattvic or pure vegetarian food for themselves and their ancestors. Some of the common dishes prepared on this day are:

- Rice: Rice is considered as a staple food for Hindus and is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of nourishment and prosperity.
- Dal: Dal or lentils are cooked with spices and herbs and are offered to the ancestors as a symbol of simplicity and humility.
- Kheer: Kheer or rice pudding is made with milk, rice, sugar and dry fruits and is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of sweetness and happiness.
- Payasam: Payasam or vermicelli pudding is made with milk, vermicelli, sugar and cardamom and is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of delicacy and elegance.
- Puri: Puri or deep-fried bread is made with wheat flour, oil and salt and is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of crispiness and freshness.
- Sabzi: Sabzi or vegetable curry is made with various vegetables, spices and oil and is offered to the ancestors as a symbol of diversity and health.

Mahalaya Amavasya , know its importance , foods to have and avoid during this day

Foods Which Are Not Consumed During Mahalaya Amavasya

Mahalaya Amavasya is a day when people avoid consuming certain foods that are considered as tamasic or impure for Hindus. Some of these foods are:

- Onion: Onion is avoided as it is believed to induce anger and lust in the mind.
- Garlic: Garlic is avoided as it is believed to lower the immunity and vitality of the body.
- Meat: Meat is avoided as it is believed to cause violence and cruelty in the heart.
- Egg: Egg is avoided as it is believed to be a product of animal suffering and exploitation.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is avoided as it is believed to impair the intellect and judgment of the person.

Mahalaya Amavasya is a day that reminds us of our roots and our connection with our ancestors. It is a day that teaches us to respect and honor our elders and to seek their blessings and guidance. It is a day that inspires us to live a righteous and virtuous life and to contribute to the welfare of the society