Mahalaya Amavasya – A Day to Appease the Deceased

Mahalaya Amavasya, which is just a public holiday to some residents of Kudla, is a day of great significance to others. It is the last day of the Pitru Paksha, also known as Mahalaya, the dark fortnight dedicated to making offerings of food and water to the deceased members of one’s family. The last day of this dark fortnight is called Mahalaya Amavasya, a special day that comes just before the Navarathri.

The Philanthropic Karna

Karna, the great warrior and philanthropist of the Mahabharata, is known for his generosity. He donated a lot of wealth and gave generously to charity. When he died and went to heaven, he was rewarded with gold and precious stones. But he did not receive any food.

When he asked Yama, the god of death, the reason for this, Yama (Indra, the king of gods, in some versions of the same legend) told him that he was being punished for not making any offerings to his ancestors. Karna replied that he did not do so because he did not know who his ancestors were. He also requested to be allowed to return to earth for a fortnight so that he could make the required offerings. This fortnight came to be known as Pitru Paksha.

The Belief System

Here is a set of beliefs associated with Pitru Paksha:

  1. Believers say that offerings made during Pitru Paksha benefit the souls of all deceased souls, irrespective of whether they are related to the person making the offerings.
  2. According to the Hindu texts, the souls of three generations of ancestors reside in Pitru Loka, a place sandwiched between earth and heaven. Yama, the presiding deity of death, rules over Pitru Loka. Only the souls of three generations of ancestors can reside in this place. When a member of the new generation dies, the first generation is granted entry into heaven. During Pitru Paksha, offerings are made to the souls of ancestors residing in Pitru Loka.
  3. Hindus make offerings of food and water to their deceased ancestors during Pitru Paksha. If they forget or don’t find time to do so, they can consider Mahalaya Amavasya as their last opportunity to make offerings. Mahalaya Amavasya is dedicated to all deceased ancestors, a sort of common death anniversary.
  4. The offerings are usually made by the eldest son of the family or a male relative belonging to the paternal side of the family.
  5. The offerings are cooked in special silver or copper utensils and served in leaf cups or on banana plates. Believers usually serve kheer, wheat porridge, rice, dal, spring beans, and gourd to their deceased ancestors.
  6. Since Pitru Paksha is considered to be inauspicious, believers do not make any purchases on those days.

The Rite

The eldest male member of the house performs the rites after taking a purifying bath and changing his sacred thread. He offers pindas (balls of barley flour and sesame seeds or cooked rice) during the ceremony and worships Vishnu.

He then serves the offerings to the deceased ancestors on banana leaf plates or leaf cups on the roof or terrace of the house. When a crow eats the offering, it is considered as accepted by the deceased ancestors. This is because crows are believed to be either messengers of Yama or spirits of ancestors. The family eats only after a crow pecks at the offering on the terrace.

Some families recite the Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita and/or donate to charity on this day.

Mahalaya Amavasya

Biswarup Ganguly (GFDL), CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Concept of Pitr Dosha

Pitr Dosha is a curse you invite on yourself if you fail to appease the deceased members of your family. Hindus believe that their failure to make offerings to deceased ancestors angers them. Deceased ancestors will bless them with success and prosperity only if they please them with tarpan (offerings) every year.

How will you find out if you have Pitr Dosha?

If you have Pitr Dosha, you may be facing one or many of the following problems:

  • You are never successful in anything you do irrespective of how hard you work.
  • You suffer from chronic diseases that do not respond to medical treatment.
  • You have no success in your business or career.
  • Your married life is full of strife and misery.
  • You remain childless although you have been married for several years.
  • You keep losing your wealth and property.

There is only one way to get rid of Pitr Dosha—make offerings to the manes and appease them. That’s why you have Mahalaya Amavasya.

Featured Image Credit: By Krish Dulal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

How Obeying Traffic Rules Can Save You Money

Have you ever been caught by a traffic cop for violating traffic rules? Many of us lose a lot of money paying fines for violating simple traffic rules. Actually, we can save all that money by simply following the rules.

The Rules

Here are the most basic of those rules:

  1. If you are driving a car, wear your seat belt.
  2. If you are riding your two-wheeler, wear your helmet. Make sure that the pillion rider is also wearing a helmet.
  3. Don’t park your vehicle on the road or in front of a bus stand or on the footpath. Park it well off the road.

If you want to be on the safest side, find a Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) pay park. You have to pay them a fee depending on your vehicle and how long you want to park your vehicle there. For example, if you are parking a car for one hour, you have to pay Rs. 10. You can rest assured that you won’t find a tire lock on your vehicle when you return to it. You will save the Rs. 200 you will have to pay as fine to get the tire lock off your car.

  1. Don’t mix drinking with driving.
  2. Carry the original copies of your registration card, insurance certificate, Pollution under Control (PUC) certificate, tax card, and driving license. If you are driving a transport vehicle, you have to carry your permit and fitness certificate as well.
  3. If you dislike the idea of carrying the original copies of your registration card, insurance certificate, tax card, and driving license, you can produce these documents at the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and obtain a Master Pass. This Master Pass proves that you have all the above-mentioned documents. You can then keep your original documents at home and carry the Master Pass whenever you drive.
  4. Even if you have a Master Pass, you have to carry a PUC. It is illegal to drive any vehicle without the PUC.

Your Rights

Since the Mangaluru Traffic Police do not have a website, I had to rely heavily on the Bengaluru City Traffic Police website. They have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) questions section, which gives a lot of information.

1. You have the right to request a receipt.

You see, there is no chance of a cop overcharging you if you insist on a receipt.

Interestingly, no constable or head constable can accept spot fines. Only three officers can accept spot fines and issue receipts. They are the assistant sub inspector, police inspector, and police sub inspector.

So how are you going to identity them? It’s easy. You just have to count the stars on their uniforms. The assistant sub inspector has one star, the police sub inspector has two, and the police inspector has three.

2. No penalties for outstation vehicles.

The police are not authorized to penalize drivers of vehicles bearing outstation registration plates.

3. The traffic police cannot fine you for not having a PUC.

Of course, it is not legal to drive a vehicle without a PUC. But the police have nothing to do with checking PUCs as it is the responsibility of the RTO.

4. You can refuse to pay the spot fine.

You have the right to refuse to pay the spot fine, but you have to surrender your driving license. When you do so, you will receive an acknowledgment. You will then be given a week’s time to visit the nearest police station, pay the fine, and get back your driving license. If you fail to do so, you will be summoned by the court.

If you don’t want to pay the spot fine and don’t have a license with you, you will have to leave your vehicle with the police.

Some Tips

So what do should you do if a traffic cop stops you?

1 Avoid arguing with the cop.

As far as possible, avoid arguing with the traffic cops. If you learn the traffic rules and stick to them, no traffic cop will ever stop you. If you obey the rules, you will make life easier not only for the traffic police, but also for you. If it is quite clear that you have violated a rule, simply pay the fine, accept your receipt, and drive away.

2. Don’t run away.

If a traffic cop has stopped you, you might as well face the music. After all, it doesn’t take long. You only have to pay the fine and listen to a lecture. Don’t ever make the mistake of speeding away. You might end up running over someone or injuring them.

3. Download Fine Meter

Fine Meter is a simple app for Android. You will find it in the Google Play Store. You can download and install it on your mobile free of charge. This app is a storehouse of information about traffic rules and penalties for traffic offenses. You can use it to calculate the exact amount of fine you have to pay for a traffic offense.

Here are a few more things you can do:

 

Featured Image Credit: By Sugeesh at ml.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons