Pitru Paksha is a time period during which Hindus in India pay homage to their ancestors. It is a 16 lunar-day period and is also referred to as Pitru Pakshya, Pitri Pokkho, Mahalaya Paksha, and Sola Shraddha. The term Pitru Paksha translates to fortnight of the ancestors. The death rites performed during Pitru Paksha are called sraddha or Shraddha. Pitru Paksha 2017 dates are from September 5 to September 19. This period falls on the second fortnight of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. It is usually the fortnight that falls immediately after the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in India. The Mahalaya amavasya is considered to be the most important day of the Pitru Paksha period. Mahalaya Amavasya 2017 is on September 19 and the shradha puja timings for the day is between 1:13 PM to 3:35 PM. Mahalaya is believed to be the day when Goddess Durga descended on earth. People usually visit religious sites to offer the shradh prayers or pujas for their dead ancestors during Pitra Paksha. The shradh prayers are performed under the guidance of a priest. There are several auspicious places across India that people visit to perform the shradh puja. Here are the most prominent Indian places where Sraddha is performed during Pitru Paksha. Also Read - Pitru Paksha Shradh 2017 Dates: Complete Mahalaya Paksha Schedule with Muhurat Timings
Bodh gaya temple in Bihar
Gaya in Bihar is one of Indias major pilgrim spots. It hosts a fair during the Pitra Paksha period as several pilgrims visit the holy city to perform rites for their dead ancestors. The fair on the banks of the river Falgu attracts thousands of pilgrims.
Many families visit Varanasi located on the banks of the River Ganges. Ganges is considered to be a holy river and the ghats of Varanasi make ideal spots for performing sacred rites during Pitru Paksha.
Jagannath Ghat, Kolkata
Ghats are popular spots among Hindus for performing the last rites of dead ancestors. One such ghat which attracts a number of pilgrims during Pitru Paksha is Jagannath ghat in Kolkata. Located on Strand Bank Rd, Jagannath Ghat is believed to have been constructed around 1760 and has been a prominent Hindu pilgrim spot since then.
The Banganga tank in Mumbai sees a number of visitors during Pitru Paksha to perform rites for their dead ancestors. A holy dip in the water is customary as it is believed to absolve people of their sins.
Pitru Paksha ends with the Mahalaya Amavasya whihc also marks the beginning of the revered Durga Puja festival in India. It is an interesting contrast from the Pitru Paksha period as Durga Puja is one of the most vibrant festivals of the country.