Sohra Shraddha: Honoring Ancestral Spirits in Nepal

Major Highlights

  • Sohra Shraddha is a 16-day period during which Nepali Hindus pay homage to their deceased ancestors through various rituals.

  • This observance involves offering Pinda (steamed rice balls) and Tarpan (holy water, Kush, flowers, and seeds) to honor ancestors.

  • Sohra Shraddha takes place during the waning moon period known as Krishna Pakshya in the month of Ashwin.

  • The 16-day Sohra Shraddha period concludes just before the start of Dashain, Nepal’s most significant festival.

  • Sohra Shraddha is in accordance with Vedic Satya Sanatan, the classical Hindu tradition, and precedes major festivals.

  • It is believed that during this period, ancestors eagerly await offerings from their descendants, and participating in Sohra Shraddha helps clear ancestral debts.

In the heart of Nepal, a beautiful and deeply spiritual tradition unfolds during the waning moon period of Ashwin – Sohra Shraddha. This 16-day observance holds profound significance for Nepali Hindus as they come together to pay homage to their deceased ancestors. From the offering of Pinda, steamed rice balls, to the sacred Tarpan ceremony with holy water, Kush, flowers, and seeds, Sohra Shraddha is a time of reverence, remembrance, and renewal. Let’s delve into the depths of this ancient practice and explore the rich tapestry of rituals, beliefs, and cultural nuances that make Sohra Shraddha an integral part of Nepal’s spiritual landscape.

Sohra Shraddha, a spiritual journey spanning 16 lunar days, holds a special place in the hearts of Nepali Hindus. This period, also known as Krishna Pakshya, occurs in the month of Ashwin, and its culmination marks the onset of Dashain, Nepal’s grandest festival. At its core, Sohra Shraddha is a time to remember and honor one’s ancestors. Families gather to offer Pinda, symbolic rice balls, and perform Tarpan, a ritual involving holy water, Kush (grass), fragrant flowers, and seeds. These offerings symbolize respect and gratitude towards those who came before.

Sohra Shraddha

Rituals and Offerings 

During this period, families meticulously prepare Pinda, forming rice balls that represent spiritual sustenance for the departed souls. These rice balls are offered to ancestors in a solemn ceremony. Tarpan, another vital ritual, involves the pouring of holy water mixed with sacred herbs, grains, and flowers into the cupped hands, symbolizing the continuity of life and the blessings of the divine.

Sohra Shraddha is deeply rooted in Vedic Satya Sanatan, the classical Hindu tradition, which underscores the importance of remembering and honoring one’s ancestors. During this observance, it is believed that the spirits of ancestors eagerly anticipate offerings from their descendants. By participating in Sohra Shraddha, families seek to clear any ancestral debts and ensure the blessings and protection of their forebears for the future.

Sohra Shraddha

The Sacred Locations 

Nepal’s diverse topography becomes a canvas for Sohra Shraddha pilgrimages. Many choose to visit the banks of revered rivers like Bagmati in Kathmandu, while others seek the confluences of mighty rivers such as Kali Gandaki and Trishuli at Devghat, Chitwan. These locations are believed to amplify the spiritual power of the ceremonies. Additionally, holy places like Galeshwar in Myagdi, Kagbeni in Mustang, Barah Kshetra in Sunsari-Udaypur, and Ruru Kshetra along the Kali Gandaki basin beckon pilgrims with their sacred energy.

Sohra Shraddha transcends time, connecting the living with their departed loved ones in a sacred bond of remembrance. As the moon wanes and the rituals unfold, families gather by riverbanks and holy sites, strengthening their spiritual ties and sharing moments that transcend generations. It is a testament to the enduring traditions and the rich cultural tapestry that defines Nepal. Sohra Shraddha, with its rituals and reverence, reminds us that the legacy of our ancestors lives on, guiding and blessing us as we journey through life.