KATHMANDU, Nepal- For the next 16 days beginning Friday, people throughout the country are seen moving with yellow ‘Tika’ in their foreheads as the Sorha Shraddha, special memorial days of ancestors in Hindu religion, began here from Friday, September 20, 2013 to pay homage to the deceased ancestors.
Sorha means 16 in Nepali and Shraddha means the act done with full respect. So, Sorha Shraddha, means the 16 day long rituals performed in memories of the ancestors. It will continue until October 4, the very previous day of Ghatasthapana, first day of Dashain, the greatest Hindu festival.
The Sorha Shraddha, that occurs in the Pitri Pakshya from Bhadra Sukla Pratipada to Aswin Krishna Aunsi, as per the lunar calendar, is observed in the memory of deceased three preceding generations of one’s lineage. Sons, according to traditions, perform special rites on the lunar day of their fathers/mothers was dead by offering rice, food, fruits, water, coins and flowers to the departed souls of parents, grand-parents and great- grand parents.
Three features – preparing oneself for the ritual one day in advance with holy bath, hair shaved and only one vegetarian meal in the late afternoon, performing rituals the next day amidst priestly chanting at home or in temples or river banks, and presenting food and gifts to priest and relatives particularly to married daughters and sisters and their children- are the components of Sorha Shraddha ritual.
The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), ghosts (bhutas) and guests. The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performers.
According to the preliminary census report 2012, eighty-two per cent of total population of 26.6 million in Nepal are Hindus.