Fortnight Of Remembrance...
Other day, my daughter and her friends were happily jumping on and around the sofas in our living room. Their happy screams fetched me there...To my horror, all I could see was a huge mess. Only one thought dominated my mind space at that very moment...these can not be act of humans, but the monkeys...No wonder that our ancestors were monkeys...
While I was cleaning up the clutter, I wondered how the life must have been for our ancestors, forefathers??? The journey of human race from the monkey state to today's modern avatar is so interesting. However it must have had its own share of difficulties as well. The shear brain power made the human beings race ahead of others and gain the supremacy. As I was vacuuming the carpet, I wondered what and how we might have been, if our ancestors had not toiled so hard to hand us over a comfortable life. But do we appreciate this fact in our everyday life? More often than not, the answer is big NO.
We all are so engrossed in our so called busy life that we don't even have the time to pause for a while and thank all the unsung heroes of human-hood. Forget the bigger picture of the human-hood, we don't even know the names and the occupations of our forefathers. Here then enters our religious tradition, a very thoughtful one, "Pitru Paksha". It literally means the fortnight of ancestors. It is this time of the year when we can pay homage to long lost and be grateful to their contributions towards our lives. Pitru Paksh starts on the first day of the second fortnight of hindu month Bhadrapad and ends after fifteen days on Sarva Pitri Amavasya.
As a child I have seen many oblong faces during Pitru Paksh in our otherwise chirpy house. I used to be with my Ajoba (paternal grand father) most of the times, in those days. When asked, he once had said that all our forefathers would be descending from their photo frames. They then would stay with us for a day and leave for their heavenly abode to return only next year. With this great enlightenment, I remember, I would check the photo frames many a times during those days. All my little heart wished was to see the forefathers descend from their respective photo frames. Though no one ever descended in our living room from the photo frames, this very memory has permanently descended in my life!!!
There used to be an elaborate puja in our house. A priest would visit us and perform the rituals. At the end of the puja, the priest used to leave the house after a scrumptious meal and a generous donation. I could never understand why every one had to wear a serious, lost somewhere, a sad look on that day? Were we all not supposed to be happy to host the heavenly guests, that too just one day in a year??? The question stayed with me for many years...unanswered.
As I grew older, I started realizing and appreciating the contributions, sacrifices made by ancestors and our forefathers. And that included not only my great or great great grand dads and moms but many people from varied spheres of life, like the soldiers who lost their lives while guarding our mother land, freedom fighters, social reformers, selfless workers who devoted their lives for up-liftment of the society, etc to name a few. It this very interpretation, my own take, of Pitru Paksha, finally satisfied my unanswered question. I arrived at an answer that says, Pitru Paksh is a "Fortnight Of Remembrance".
Pitru Paksh is all about being thankful to all those who are no longer with us but have contributed directly or indirectly to our well being. Just pause for a while and recollect all their deeds. This sure will make us humble and grateful. And I really thank our religion for instilling this insight in our lives. Of course there are many other thought processes that define and constrain the very meaning of Pitru Paksh. This period is seen as one that should not be used to start something new or good. But don't you think, every day is a gift and hence called "Present"? Isn't it in our hands to make the day good or better or best? Why then have the fear of forefathers? Will they not be happy to see us happy and enjoying our lives?
On a lighter side, I can always see fewer people in the market and in the shopping malls during Pitru Paksha. As the crowd is less, I can spend quality time in choosing my stuff. Most of the times, I then get the services of the counter sales staff without a crease on their foreheads. Rather, they are more welcoming than ever. Sometimes I even end up getting a better bargain. So, my special thanks to all those who follow the tradition blind folded.
And here I go on a shopping spree to stock up for the upcoming festive season!!! Till that time, good bye and don't forget its a fortnight of remembrance...
PS: All images, courtesy Google image search.