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Pitr Rin

Remembering the departed souls of your family

Piyaray Lal Raina

Sept 19, 2000

Lunar month of Ashwan (Asuj) has started on September 14th. The first two weeks of this month (September 14 - 28 during this year) also known as Krishn Paksh is the period when we Pandits repay our Pitr rin to our ancestors who are no longer amongst us. I am writing this note so that you understand our traditions and endeavor to keep our traditions and customs alive for your progeny. 

According to Shastras, a Hindu is born with three debts (rin) which he/she has to repay during his/her lifetime. These are:

1. Dev rin: Debts we owe to Gods for our smooth journey in this and next life.
2. Pitr rin: Debts we owe to our ancestors who have departed the earthly abode.
3. Rishi rin: Debts we owe to learned ones including our Guru who guides us in our day to day life.
Kashmiri Pandits pays the Pitr rin in the following manner:
1. The oldest living male descendant of the deceased soul offers water to his loved ones daily by performing "Tarpan" ritual in the morning before eating.
2. On the death anniversary (as per our lunar calendar) of the departed souls, Shrada Sankalpa is performed at home. The family Guruji (Gor) performs this ritual as per the prescribed text (Vidhi).
3. During Pitr Paksh (i.e. the dark two weeks (Krishn Paksh) of the lunar month of Ashwan (known as Asuj in Kashmiri) we perform another Shrada Sankalpa.
4. We also perform Shrada Sankalpa at various tirthas (holy places) such as Mattan in Kashmir, Gaya in Bihar, Hardawar in Uttar Pradesh, Triveni at Allahbad, Pushkar in Ajmer, and other holy places.
During these two weeks, we remember our loved ones on the day (tithi of the two weeks) each departed soul/s passed away. For example, if a loved one had passed away on the 5th day of any lunar month, then we remember him/her on the 5th day of the Krishn Paksh of Ashwan. However, sometimes this can be on the 4th day of the Krishn Paksh if our almanac (Janthri) has marked 5th as Devadev. Devadev means that the day has actually started before the sunrise. As per our customs, the day starts with sunrise. All Devadev days are marked clearly in the almanac.

There are two components of Shrada Sankalpa one part consists mainly of ritualistic pooja and second part consists of offering of clothes, money, rice, salt, fruit, vegetables etc to Guruji who performs the ritual. In his absence, the offerings are made to the priests at the temple and in some cases to needy ones. Even if it is not possible to perform the Shrada (ritual part), the offerings are still made. We call it Mansawun in Kashmiri. If a Shrada Sansalpa of a loved one has been performed at Gaya, then there is no performance of Shrada (ritual part) at home.

On the day of Shrada, the family assemble at the oldest living son's home and all the children of departed soul keep a fast and break the fast together. On this day, choicest dishes are prepared including non-vegetarian dishes if the one who is being remembered was a non-vegetarian. All family members pray and offer flowers for the peace of the departed soul in front of the picture of the departed soul.

Mansawun Vidhi (Offering method)

Our almanac (janthri) describe the offering method. The mantras are simple and short. One has to know the "Gotra" of the family to recite these mantras. Gotra is an identification of all Hindus (similar to social security number in USA assuming there is one for each family instead). Even though outside Kashmir there are total of six Gotras, our community has complex gotra system of 199 gotras. 

The process begins with keeping the offering in front of the picture of the departed soul.  The males assembled for the ritual transfer the yagnopavit to the left arm. With some water and black sesame seed in the palm of their right hands the following mantra is recited:

OM TAT SAT BRAHM TITHOU ADAY ASHWAN MASASY 
KRISHN PAKSHAY <Tithay>1 <Day of Week>2 VASREY
<Relationship of departed soul> 3 <Name of the person> <Gotra>4 
SHRADEY ANNAM VASTRAE FALMUL DAKSHINA SAHITAM
SANKALPIYAMI
Notes for the mantra
1 Date of the event e.g. Prathmi for 1st day, Dutmi for the 2nd day and so on. Refer to your almanac (janthri) for the Tithay.
2 e.g. Somvar for Monday, Mangalvar for Tuesday and so on.
3 Pitray for Father, Matray for Mother, Pita Mahay for Grandfather, and Pita Mahey for Grand mother.
4 e.g. Datatrey, Kappishtal Manva, Swamin Madugulay 
With this recitation sprinkle the water in the right hand on the offerings.

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