After bidding adieu to our beloved Ganpati Bappa, there comes a fornight period of Pitru Paksh. A period to pay homage or ‘tarpan’ to our dead ancestors. It is believed that during these 15 days period, the doors of heaven are opened so that all our ancestors can visit us and accept the tribute offered by their children. Having seen and following these traditions for decades now, I recently came across a mythological story being these rites and rituals.
After Mahabharata when Karna died, he reached heaven. Karna was well known for his generous donations he made towards any seeker who came to him with their wishes. He once donated his kavach and kundal (royal shield and heavy earrings) to Lord Indra. He never once hesitated to give away all his precious belongings as donations. Hence after his death, when he reached Yamlok, he was offered Gold, Silver and all different precious stones as food. This puzzled him and kept him hungry for days. Finally he questioned Lord Yama on this act, then Lord Yama answered, ” O Generous Karna, you have done tremendous donations in all forms during your entire lifetime, but never did you offer food to the hungry or needy people. Hence until your successors offer food to the needy people or offer tarpan during the Pitra Paksh period, you would not be blessed with food here. Karna was unaware about the fact with respect to these rituals hence had never performed one. Also due to the war, Karna had lost all his successors, hence there was no one left behind who could offer ‘tarpan’. Therefore Karna requested Lord Yama to allow him to go back and offer tarpan to all his ancestors and come back. Looking at the generosity of his request Lord Yama accepted his request and sent him back to complete the rituals.
Karna came back and completed all the rites and rituals of Pitra Paksha. Offered food to the needy and hungry ones. Then when he returned back to Yamlok he was offered food.
Therefore it is believed that doing tarpan or offering food in the name of your ancestors during this Pitra Paksha period pleases the ancestors.
It is also believed that during this period if someone passes away, he is immediately granted place in Heaven, since during these fifteen days the doors of Heaven are always open.