An Introduction to my Ancestor’s Feast – Samhain



Being of mixed ancestry I have created a ‘Samhain’ or Feast of the Ancestors Rite that combined the Hindu ancestral observance of Pitru/Pitri Paksha with aspects of my other spiritual lineage to call to and bless all that came before me. Before sharing my ancestral rite, which was designed to honour my maternal grandfather (Hindu-Brahmin) and my maternal grandmother (Hindu-‘Shakti Shaman), I wish to share a little basic information on a very complex Hindu rite. In Hindu tradition, these rites are performed by the eldest son. Lucky for me, my maternal grandparents were a little more open to the power of the Goddess and the women she resides in.

PITRU PAKSHA – (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष),
Pitru Paksha literally translates to the “fortnight of the ancestors” and is considered by Hindus to be an auspicious period which falls within the Hindu Lunar Calendar. This celebration is within a sequence of holy periods in the Hindu faith and ends with Diwali, the celebration of light. Essentially, it is equivalent to the European celebrations of Samhain through to Yule.

According to Hindu mythology, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitru–loka, a realm between heaven and earth. As the sun enters Thula (Libra), it is believed that the spirits leave this realm and reside in their descendants’ homes for a month until the sun enters Vrichchhika (Scorpio)—and there is a full moon. During this time offerings are made to the departed, including those whose names or manner of death are not known. The scriptures preach that a householder should provide offerings to ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), ghosts (bhutas) and guests. The scripture says that if the ancestors are content with the rituals and offerings, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer.

The food offerings made to the ancestors are usually cooked in silver or copper vessels and typically placed on a banana leaf or cups made of dried leaves. The offerings consist of 6 food items: Kheer (a type of sweet rice and milk), lapsi (a sweet porridge made of wheat grains), dahl (yellow split pea/lentil), basmati rice, spring bean and pumpkin. The offering is considered to be accepted if a crow arrives and devours the food; the bird is believed to be a messenger from spirit of the ancestors.

Traditionally: The male who performs the shraddha should take a purifying bath beforehand and is expected to wear a dhoti. He wears a ring of kush grass. Then the ancestors are invoked to reside in the ring.

For my rite: I proceed with my ritual crossroads bath and wear a white outfit that is reserved only for ritual. I use a crystal skull for the ancestors to reside within.

Timing is set by the Hindu lunar calendar, and therefore changes each year. While the full period of the ritual is 1 lunar cycle, commencing on the full moon preceding the Autumn Equinox, the ritual itself is completed for the ‘fortnight’ specifically from Full moon to New moon. This year (2014), the period for ritual falls between the full moon on September 8th, to the New Moon on September 24th, with the full period ending on the Full Moon on October 8th. Veneration of the ancestors is completed through ritual, communion and feasts. If you are unable to perform the rite for the full period, it is imperative that you do so on the last night of the ‘ritual’ time which is the New Moon. As my Mama’s birthday falls on October 31st, I personally continue to ‘feed’ the ancestors and hold my ‘crossroads’ open until November 1st.

Mama and I have a bond in giving to those who don’t have, even at times when it’s all we have ourselves. I have extended this to remembering those who have no legacy of their own. Not everyone (myself included) have children. They still need to be remembered for the lives they lived, the lessons they taught the world and the love the brought into it. In addition to my ancestral rite which calls to Mama and Papa, I leave offerings during this time outside for the ‘orphans’ of the universe. In this instance, it does not mean they have no parents, but they have no children. I do the same during the Winter Solstice Rites.

The Shakti Shaman Ancestor’s Feast Rite:
steps of the puja

[1] Lord Ganesh Mantra & Offering
[2] Create portal/cross roads btw earth/spirit realms.
[3] Invite the Ancestors & Ancients
[4] Ancestral offering of thanks – a meal in welcome.
[5] Mantra to the Ancestors – an offering of thanks.
Mantra for guidance (wisdom/health/abundance)
Incense offering (wisdom/health/abundance
[6] Crystal Skull – Spirit Home
[7] Ancestral offering of thanks – departure.
[8] Closing of portal – Ritual ends.



To help configure the setup of the puja I did a ‘dry run’ to provide you with a photo to guide your journey, should you wish to use this puja or aspects of it, for your own Ancestor’s Feast or Samhain celebration. Shared in perfect trust.  Namaste, Kayla B. (Shakti Shaman)

3 thoughts on “An Introduction to my Ancestor’s Feast – Samhain

  1. Pingback: Ancestor’s Feast Ritual – Samhain | Fireside Witch

  2. Reblogged this on Dreaming the World and commented:
    Jennie and I have some deep ties to India, a place we have learned from, and shared with, others. One of the themes that has arisen for each of us is that of similarity in belief and ceremony. The days of the Dead are still a couple of months off. Not so in India. I often wonder whether more awareness of the Ancestors would aid Western culture.


  3. Pingback: The Seasons begin their dance. | Fireside Witch

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