Hindus perform a set of Rituals on the Amavasya (Vavu) day in the month of Karkitakam as per Malayalam Calendar, known as Karkitaka Vavu Bali. The ‘Dakshinayana’ period starts from month of Karkitakam as per the Malayalam calendar. It is believed to be the night of the Gods or ‘Devas’.
People believe that the departed souls attain liberation (Moksha) by performing this special ritual or homage performed on that day. In 2021, the Karkitaka Vavu Bali falls on the 8th of August which is a Sunday. On the day of Karkitaka Vavu, in Tamil Nadu, Hindus observe the ‘Aadi Amavasya’ rites for their departed ancestors.
Shraaddham and Vavu Bali
The Vavu Bali is called Pithru Shraaddham or offering of Bali to the deceased ancestors in the family. Men, women, children all can perform the Pithru Tharpanam or Shraaddham for their departed ancestors. The rituals are held in several Holy rivers, Temples and Seashores across Kerala. The devotees get up early on this day and finish their morning routine to reach the ‘Bali Tharpanam’ centres.
Shraaddham is actually doing rituals with “Shraddha” or sincerity, faith and patience. A day of the ancestors (departed souls) is considered to be one calendar year of ours which is 365 and 1/4 day. The person performing the ‘Bali’ ritual also observes a fast on this day and is allowed to eat only one meal comprising of rice. Eating non-vegetarian food is strictly prohibited on Karkitaka Vavu. Karkitaka Vavu Bali is performed under the supervision of known priest or elderly person.
Shraaddham and Bali
Shraaddham is a yearly ritual performed for the departed soul on his/her death star. On Shraaddham as well as Bali rituals, we invoke the departed souls on to a set of “Darbha Grass” – Desmotachya Bipinnata. Darbha is a tropical grass considered as a sacred material in the Vedic Scriptures. It is said to purify the offerings during poojas and rituals.
The person doing the Bali or Shraaddham calls the soul from its heavenly abode, offer it with rice (Food) and water (Neeru) and prays for the blessings. After performing the rituals, the soul is requested to go back to its abode and the remaining of the offering is normally given to the crows.
Like we have daily food, the souls also need to be fed on a daily basis. Our one calendar year is their one day. So, by doing this ritual yearly, we offer food and remembrance to the departed souls every day.
Modern day Challenges
People living abroad may not be able to do such rituals on a yearly basis according to the death star of the departed ones. Also, people living in apartments also may not get required space and materials to perform the rituals. It is believed that “Sri Rama” and “Lakshmana” performed the Shraaddha for their father “Dasharatha” on the Karkitaka Vavu day. For this reason, Karkitaka Vavu Bali is considered as sacred and equivalent to the yearly Shraaddham.
It is believed that offering ‘Bali’ on the Amavasya (no moon day) in the month of Karkitakam is ideal for attracting prosperity and wealth and for the well-being of the progeny.
Read more about “Karkitaka Vavu Bali” here
Let us now watch a video on a very simple procedure to perform the Karkitaka Vavu Bali.