Tharpanam means “That offering which satisfies”. But what we mean by the word Tharpanam is the offering of water mixed with black Sesame seeds to the manes-(dead ancestors). Though we have several ancestors, this offering is addressed to three generations of father, grandfather and great grandfather along with their wives (Sapatnikaan if the wife is dead). Only those whose father is dead are eligible to do Tharpanam.
Amavasya is the name of new moon night in ancient Indian way of life ((during and after the vedic times). It is the first night of the first quarter of the lunar month. Since the moon is invisible on the day, Amavasya is also referred as no moon night. Amavasi holds great importance in Bharatha Boomi till date. Many Indians choose this day to make offering (tharpanam) to the dead ancestors especially the Thrimathastha.
All the manes are supposed by our ancient Indians to live in the Pithru loka for some time and either be reborn as any being or go to lokas like deva loka, Vaikunta or even attain salvation. The pithru loka is populated by three group of pithru devas viz, Vasu(father), Rudra(Grandfather) and Adhithya(Great Grand Father)
“VasurudraAadithya swaroopanam asmath Pitru Pitamaha Prappitamaha aavahayami”.
These devas receive our oblations and make it reach to our manes wherever they are and in whichever form they are. The pithru loka is supposed to be on the unseen side of the moon. This portion gets exposed to sun on the new moon days. It is according to our concept lunch time for the people populating the pithru loka. These pithrus, since they have left the world are solely dependent on only their progeny to feed them. This feeding is done through Tharpanam. It is believed that if Tharpanam is not performed then the Pithru devas will curse us so that we may not have male descendants to offer tharpanam to us.
The regular tharpanam which is supposed to be done on all amavasyas. Four Month beginnings mesha, karkataka, thula, and makara and also during eclipses. Our books have asked us to perform tharpanam on 96 days in a year but this is not being done nowadays.
Mahalaya Amavasya is the highly auspicious time for performing Pithru Puja to pacify the departed souls of the anscestors. The period starting from the Pirathamai Thithi (Tamil) or Pratipad Thithi (Hindi) (that is) the day next to Full Moon day (Pournami) in the tamil month of Purattasi (Sept 15th – Oct 15th) and ending on the Amavasya Thithi (New Moon day) is the most auspicious time for performing this Pithru Puja.It is good if the Pithru Puja is done on daily basis (15 days). For Pitru 365 days is equal to 1 day, As per the our ancient Indian calender (Panchagam) we have 1 amavasya and 1 Pournami so for 1 year we have 12 Amavasya. This 12 Amavasya is equal to 12 hrs of the day for our Pitru. Hence when the monthly Tharpanam is given to the Pitru it is done with Darbe, Black Sesame seeds and water(The Argyam) and for the yearly we offer the prathyabdhika shraadha which is with black Sesame seeds and rice(Pinda Tarpanam)
Why Black Seasme Seeds?
The Seasme seeds are considered to be sacred and it satisfies the hunger and the thirst of your ancestors. When the seasme seeds are offered to the dead ancestors along with the water, it slowly reduces the binding relationship between the dead ancestors and their erstwhile members of the family. When the bond between the dead ancestors and their family members are broken, then the departed soul would be ready to make another journey for a re-birth in another family. Thus the Seasme seeds acts as a catalyst to break the bond between the living family members and the dead ancestors.
Things that needs to be followed while doing Pithru Tharpanam:
- Never do this Pithru Tharpanam without taking head bath and your body & mind should be clean and calm
- Must do this Pithru Tharpanam on empty stomach (no coffee/water too)
- Never eat Non Vegetarian foods on the day that you do this ritual
- It is highly sinful to offer Non Vegetarian foods/alochol to the departed souls
- It is highly damaging to mix seasme seeds with any non vegetarian foods
- Should not take bath (for the whole day) after completing Pithru Tharpanam or Pujas
- It is always good to offer foods to those who are in really need of it
- Never do Pithru Tharpanam on your Jenma Nakshatras
- It is good to visit temples after completing the Pithru Tharpanam.