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I am a Hindu and Maratha Kshatriya from Goa.

I just wanted to ask few questions which I believe to have different answers from different brahmans I consulted so far.

It's been a month, I lost my grandmother. My Father performed her last rites.

I understand and believe that, we should not celebrate any coming festival on large scale, as we are still in a deep sorrow of my granny's death and we will continue to do that for at least 1 year.

But what I am not sure about is if we can visit any famous or averagely famous religious temples in this 1 year? If not why? What is the reason behind that? Does Shastra recommend that? If yes, where should I refer this?

I would appreciate the reference of Shashtra/vedic documents/religious references rather than just a mythologically suggested do's and dont's.

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  • OKay, thanks for letting me know. I have removed tag for 'Dharma-Shastra'. – Sachin Gaonkar Sep 23 '18 at 6:50
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    Dharma-sastra is a correct tag for your question. Also, since temple is required here I had to remove one tag in order to accommodate the "temple" tag. – Rickross Jan 21 at 10:09
  • See its about the state and mood.. that would affect the spiritual environment.. Temple are there for public to get positive vibration .. That is why in south every 12 years jeernoudharana and punar pranaprathistapa for deity is performed called kumbabisheka mahotsava.. The power of residing deity is disspated over time.. and this should be recharged.. Imagine battery source.. a person with sad and negative charge is draining force.. This battery source should be recharged immediately after it drains.. same holds good for suthaka. – Prasanna R Jan 21 at 14:48
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    but no hill pilgrimage should be undretaken.. during one year – Prasanna R Jan 21 at 14:50
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This is a complicated question to answer because Dharma Shastras say one thing and practice has deviated significantly.

To answer your question, I have to give a detailed background:

  1. When a person dies, there is 10 days of 'taint' in the family of sapiNDas - those that share a common patrilinear ancestor - for seven generations.
  2. The departed soul is considered to be a 'preta' - standalone entity until they are united with the pitrs (ancestors) at which point they become a pitr as well.
  3. The ceremony of uniting the preta with the pitrs is called the 'sapiNDIkaraNa' ritual.
  4. This ritual is supposed to be performed at the first anniversary of death since the Dharma Shastras say that it takes one year for the preta to travel to the world of the pitrs.
  5. Along this long journey, there are sixteen places where the soul 'takes a break'. The surviving family offer water and sesame seeds to the soul at the time of these 'breaks'.
  6. These offerings are as follows: 13 monthly offerings (including one on the day of death) and 3 'oona' offerings offered on the 27th, 45th days and one of the days day neighboring the 180th day.
  7. The offering on the day of death is in practice offered only on the 11th day. There is evidence of this change being at least a thousand years old vide the following story: The Srivaishnava Guru Paramparas record that one of Ramanujacharya's disciples participated in the eleventh day ceremony of the mother of the chief priest of the Srirangam temple.
  8. Around the first death anniversary, the soul is united with the pitrs and becomes a pitr.
  9. Until the preta becomes a pitr, there is always only one brahmin representing the preta in the offering ceremony.
  10. Once the preta becomes a pitr, there are 3 brahmins to represent the last 3 generations. In practice today, only one brahmin is used to represent all three generations. Two additional brahmins represent Mahavishnu and Vishvedevas in the shraddha rituals.
  11. Throughout the first year, the family of the departed soul is in mourning as the soul is still a preta. The mourning period comes with strict rules that prohibit many things including the performance of festivals, visiting temples, etc. Most importantly the period disallows the performance of life-events such as the marriage of a daughter. The prohibitions are due to the fact that the family is still in contact with the 'preta' or dead soul and it carries some taint.
  12. Other examples of such taint are : (1) Brahmins who represent the preta in the 11th day ceremony, (2) Brahmins who represent the pitr/Mahavishnu/Vishvedevas in the 12 day ceremony. All these brahmins are considered tainted for a week and they are disallowed from worship of house dieties. Instead they have to spend that week in reciting the Gayatri.
  13. Over time, it became difficult for people to follow these rules. Thus, sometime ago, the elders decided that the sapiNDikaraNa ritual can be performed on the 12th day itself by performing the 16 shraaddhas on that day.
  14. Thus today you will find that people perform 16 symbolic shraddhas (anu-mAsikas) on the 12th day before the performance of sapiNDikaraNa. This confers pitr-hood on the soul enabling the rest of the family to be a bit more relaxed in regards to the performance of life-events.
  15. The remainder of the 16 shrAddhas are still performed but now they are called anu-anu-mAsikas. Most importantly these now require the invoking of 3 generations of pitrs; not just the preta.
  16. In the olden days, the amAvAsya shrAddha (tarpaNa) was begun only after the first anniversary but now it is being performed after the 12th day itself since the soul is considered a pitr. Some families still defer this to the end of the first year (which is meaningless in my opinion).
  17. For the entirety of the first year, different families follow different practices which are all symbolic of the one year mourning period. The most orthodox families continue to avoid going to all temples.
  18. The karta(doer) of the ceremony observes dIkSha (avoiding shaving body hair, trimming nails, avoiding intercourse, etc.) for the entire year.
  19. The less orthodox families merely abstain from celebrating festivals and going to temples that are situated on hilltops.

Since answering your question has required elaborate background, I am not providing references for every fact stated. Most of what I have said should be easily verifiable from Vaidyanatha Dikshita's Smritimuktaphalam or the Garuda Purana. The reference to the anecdote from Ramanuja's life can be found from the Guruparamparas and the Koil Olugu. A minority of stuff I have posted is gathered by discussing with several shastra/sampradaya vidvans. The crux of your question is answered in points #10 and #11. I will try to find out the specific Sastra text that describes the taint involved with interaction with a 'preta'.

Disclaimer: All of this above is gathered from discussions with Srivaishnava Sampradaya vidvans but I believe none of this is specific to Srivaishnava tradition in particular. There is a small chance that people from other Brahmin groups might opine differently.

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    Good answer. When does the ‘Viraja’ river crossing happen? When I grew up and when my grand mom passed away we weren’t even allowed to go to our neighbors houses as well. Typically ‘hill’ top temple should be avoided is what I heard – Gopal Anantharaman Jan 22 at 1:43
  • @GopalAnantharaman Our mental models of time and space collapse. We know from the Upanishads that the soul goes through a 'long' journey until it reaches the Parabrahman and along the way there is a dip in VirajA. The understanding is that the 1 year period on earth coincides with the attainment of the Parabrahman - but whether that is literally true or not (or both or neither) is a matter of individual understanding that can be attained only by tapas as it is concerned in depth with the nature of jIva, brahman and their interrelationship. – hashable Apr 3 at 4:57
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Sapindeekaranaat Purvam Shobhanam Na Vidheeyate
Yadi Chet TatKrutam Karma Kattru Nashaya Kalpate

Do not plan auspicious activities before Sapindeekarana.
If it is done, the doer shall face ruin.

Sapindeekarana (12th day Pitru rituals) used to be done only after 1 year of tithi was completed, because the departed Atma takes 1 year to reach YamaLoka. And those who are in his bloodline have Asoucha (impurity).

But elders/scholars/acharyas felt - what if something happens to the karta (doer of rituals) within that 1 year ? So, they used a Shastra-allowed shortcut to consider 1 day as 1 month. So 12 months shortened to 12 days.

That shortcut is only to allow rituals to be completed in a short time without trouble. So we need not use the shortcut for other personal matters, and continue to consider the 12-month period.

Hence, during this time, no festivals, marriages, pilgrimage etc.
Also - no shaving/haircut/nailcut. Most importantly - no sex.
The last rule might seem very difficult to control sensual urges - but people used to live healthy for long, so the karta (son) would be 70 years old, so it wouldn't be too hard.

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