(Though the question may seem long, actually it is short. Even if one is able to read till the first point of Edit it would be nice)

It is seen that while performing the last rites (antyeshti, pindadanam, etc) and shraddha tarpanam rituals for ancestors in accordance with the Karma Kanda, the manner in which rituals are done are different from those at the time of worship of gods. For example-

1) The yajnopaveetham (janeu, poonool) of the performer is kept on the right shoulder, the technical term for which is apasavya. Instead of keeping it normally on the left shoulder. Even during the tarpanam, while chanting the mantra for the devatas, the yajnopaveetham is kept on the left shoulder but before chanting for the ancestors, it is shifted to the right.

2) Chandanam (sandal) is applied using the index finger, instead of the customary ring finger

3) Water, sesame seeds rice balls (pindams) are also offered turning the hand towards the thumb side.

4) A ring of Kusha (darbha) grass is tied in the thumb and finger, not normally done for devata worship.

What is the reason behind performing these rituals in such a different, almost opposite manner?

Is it related to a boon by any god or anything concerned with energy flow?

Even if someone knows the reason behind a few please do share, especially the yajnopaveetham point, it would be gratifying.

EDIT: I recently read that different places in the palm have been allotted for different purposes:-
1) The upper portions of all four fingers are called as Dēvatīrtha, all offerings to devas are thus given from there.
2) Similarly, the area between the thumb and index is called Pitrutīrtha, and is used for tarpanam.

This division seems to have been mentioned in the Manusmriti 2.59:

अङ्गुष्ठमूलस्य तले ब्राह्मं तीर्थं प्रचक्षते।
कायं अङ्गुलिमूलेऽग्रे देवं पित्र्यं तयोरधः॥५९॥

The part of the palm at the root of the thumb they call ‘the receptacle dedicated to Brahmā’; that which is at the root of the finger ‘Sacred to Prajāpati’; that on the finger-tops ‘dedicated to the Gods’; and that which is below these two ‘dedicated to the Pitṛs.’—(59)

EDIT 2: There is a reference to such a division in the Vaikhānasa Grihyasūtra Praśna 1 Khanda 5 as well:

Of the right hand, the middle part of the palm is the part sacred to Agni ... the part between the index and thumb is that sacred to the Fathers... An act relating to Gods he performs with the tīrtha of the Gods... one relating to the Fathers with the Fathertīrtha...

Other websites claim that this information is also mentioned in the Mahabharata, Linga Purana, Devi Bhagavata, Bhavishya Purana (not been able to verify where).

I couldn’t find the reason (as asked above in the question) for the area between the index and thumb being allotted as Pitrutīrtha and why that area is used for Pitru tarpanam. Hope this information helps in further research.

  • 2
    Devas are towards the north direction. When facing east, poonol will be on left shoulder in upaveethi. Left of east is north. Pitrus are towards the south direction. When facing east, poonol will be on right shoulder in pracheenavithi. Right of east is south. 3 dharba are used in pavitram for pitru karya, but only 2 for deva karya. Generally pitru karyam is associated with death. So, many things are opposite. Even during daily bhojan, after finishing eating, part of parisechanam is to offer few drops via thumb towards right, because we eat facing east, and offer towards south. – mar May 28 '20 at 19:40
  • Thank you very nice and logical explanation. Feeling good to learn something new. Is there any reason why the top party of the poonool faces north or south respectively. Does it help in energy flow in Nadis? Also can one do Tarpanam facing the south and offer straight? Or face the West and offer in upaveethi with the left hand or straight with the right hand? If not Why only east? – Archit May 29 '20 at 6:50
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    one famous sloka i remember is bimhosmi prathibhimosmi you are just refleciton of soul, what is right here in reflection is left.. once soul leaves the body it merges into the reflected mirror so all the karma for pithru devatha is opposite,, its in opposite realm.. and also for vishwadeva you give rice and for pithru you give seaseme seed – Prasanna R Jun 10 '20 at 15:24
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    yes if you dig deeper your jeeva swaroopa should be reveled.. so all this scriptures are really meaningful.. jeeva (sat chith ananda) is same in aspects as god but not god. jeeva is infinite proportion lesser than GOD..inside jeeva swaroopa is God god is encapsulated by jeeva (is mixture of sattva, raja and tamo) Linga is encapsulating jeeva swaroop with its own prakruthi (sattva, rajas and tamos) and in turn encapsulated by anirudha deha and finally sthula deha, each birth deha is differeing according to karma.. is like color sheet wrapped around tube light reflectting the color of sheet – Prasanna R Jun 10 '20 at 16:26
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    Yes present deha is related to Karma is like sheet forming satvik karma cleanse the sheet rajasic karma adds more dust to sheet and tammasic adding black shoot mirror image is only a analogy to understand pithru devathasa its not merging into the mirror – Prasanna R Jun 11 '20 at 10:54

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