Fortnight of the Ancestors 



There is an ancient saying that "Our ancestors live through us."
Some cultures worship their ancestors on a daily basis.  Others imbibe their essence on special days, others remember them at special festivals on an annual basis.
As Hindus, we remember our ancestors during the Pitru Paksha - the Fortnight of the Ancestors.
For 14-15 days, we honour the memory of our ancestors and remember their contribution in our lives.  In their memory, we cook the foods they liked and talk about our ancestors with our children and other relatives.  We remember our grand-parents, parents and other relations who have passed away.

All of us have moved so far from where our parents/ grand parents / great grand parents lived, it often feels like we live in a different world to them.  Let us, for the next fortnight atleast, remember them, and appreciate how much they have contributed to our success in life.

In many cases, our children and younger members of the family / community have not seen or experienced the world inhabited by their ancestors.  
Let us take this opportunity to talk to them about the bygone world where our grandmothers had to fetch water from a well or a river ; use cow dung to cook ; milk cows ; farm using simple hand tools ; and where fastest communication was via carrier pigeons!  Most children have only seen these things in books or movies, to think their own great grand mothers did this will fascinate them.  Talk about their amazing journey from India to Africa, America, Fiji, Trinidad, UK, USA etc.  Take this opportunity to talk to them about how our ancestors fought for the freedoms we often take for granted, freedom from an oppressive ruler, freedom of religion, livelihood, movement, right to vote etc.  Explore with them ideas of what makes India and being a Hindu of Indian origin so special.

Open old diaries, look at family albums, holiday films from 50s and 60s, talk about friends and family whose memory is often stored away in an attic.  Write down names of relatives whom you haven't seen in ages.  Learn the names of your immediate ancestors, going back maybe 5 - 7 generations.  The joy of knowing your roots will amaze you !  If ever you go to a place of pilgrimage in India, talk to the pandas there.  There will be a panda (brahmin) assigned to your family / village or region in each place of pilgrimage.  These pandas keep written records of all pilgrims who have come there.  Where possible, they even get the pilgrim to write down how many people are in their family, their names, profession and reason for the pilgrimage.  These are precious, primary source records of our ancestors, going back hundreds of years, often with their signature or thumb prints!


Talk to your children about Mahatma Ghandi, Chatrapati Shivaji, Pallavas, Cholas, Sissodias, Solankis, Mauryas, Shri Vallabhacharya, Shri Ramanuja, Shri Madhava, Adi Shankara, Emperor Ashok, king Pauras, the Pandavas, Raghukul, Rishi, these are our collective ancestors.  Let us remember them with pride. 

Talk about the great men and women of all races and cultures who have contributed to mankind in one way or another, in arts, science, technology, economics, spirituality, they are the ancestors of all mankind..

Our ancestors should live in our memory at all times, as they have given us the life we have now.
For the next fortnight atleast, let us honour our ancestors, without whom, none of us would be here today.

© Bhagwat Shah    [email protected]


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