Dr Amrit Kaur | September 20, 2023 09:47 PM

Saradhs also called sharadhs are forbidden in Sikh religion whereas in Hindu religion saradhs are held in memory of the deceased ancestors every year in the month of Asu, the seventh desi month which corresponds to the month of September.

In this month, during the first half of the lunar month i.e. the darkness pakh which starts with the full moon day and ends on the no moon day. Saradhs are held in memory of the deceased pitters (ancestors). During these fifteen days i.e. the darkness pakh the Hindus hold saradhs wherein they serve a sumptuous mid-day meal to a purohit (pandit) with the belief that this food will reach their deceased ancestors i.e. their deceased parents and grandparents. Their belief is that their deceased ancestors reside in pittar puri i.e. the place of residence of the deceased ancestors. Pittar means ancestors and puri means place of residence. They believe that during these fifteen days their deceased parents and grandparents come to the world and partake off the food served by their children and grandchildren. Along with sumptuous food sometimes the purohit is given clothes and money.

According to Manu and Vishnu Smriti if in saradh sesame, rice, barley, black beans and vegetables are served the pittars remain satiated for 1 month, with fish meat they remain satiated for 2 months, with antelope meat they remain satiated for 3 months, with sheep meat for 4 month, with birds' meat for 5 months, with goat meat for 6 months, with tiger meat for 7 months, with gazzelle meat for 8 months, with red deer meat for 9 months, with buffalow and pig meat for 10 months, with tortoise and hare meat the ancestors remain satiated for 11 months.

The saradh for the deceased person is held on the same tith (day of the lunar month) on which he/she died. The Hindus believe that they appease their pitters through the saradh held in their memory. In Attrey Sanhita, one of the holy books of Hindus it is stated that 'during these fifteen days the pittar puri becomes vacant, the pittars rush to the world to eat the food served in the saradh held in their memory. If they are not fed they curse their children and grand children and go back to the pitter puri. Even if a person has committed sins as huge as the Sumer parbat (a very high mountain), when he/she holds saradhs for their pitters they are nullified. Through saradhs only a person can go to heaven. As a rule the Hindus hold saradhs during the Asu month, the saradhs held in any other month on the same tith on which a person had died is called khayahi saradh. The tradition of holding saradhs among the Hindus has been in existance since times immemorial. Manu and Vishnu Smriti have included instructions about the holding of saradhs.

In Varidh Hareet Sanhita, another holy book of the Hindus it is stated that if the pandit who eats the food in the saradh is not vegetarian, the ancestors of the person holding the saradh, will have to eat faeces and drink urine.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs, the Sikhs are forbidden to hold saradhs. In this holy book, again and again it is made clear that after the death the soul of the saintly persons merges into the God, i.e. the person is emancipated. In other words the soul becomes mukat i.e. it is released from the circle of re-births. In the case of all other persons after death the soul immediately enters the circle of 8.4 million species. The number of species through which the person passes before being re-born as a human being depends on the type of deeds he has done during this life. Those who have done more good deeds have to pass through a lesser number of species and those who have committed sins have to pass through a larger number of species. In either case, i.e. (i) when the soul is emancipated or (ii) when the soul passes through 8.4 million species, the soul does not reside in any pitter puri. Thus, if the soul either merges into the God Almighty or enters into another body immediately after death wherein the possibility of its residing in the pittar puri.

Bhagat Kabir Ji (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 332) has stated:

Jīvaṯ piṯar na mānai ko▫ū mū▫eʼn sirāḏẖ karāhī. Piṯar bẖī bapure kaho ki▫o pāvahi ka▫ū▫ā kūkar kẖāhī.

This means that the person does not honor his ancestors while they are alive, but he holds saradhs in their honor after they have died. He adds tell me, how can his poor ancestors receive what the crows and the dogs have eaten up?

Bhagat Kabir Ji has clarified that people do not take proper care of their parents and grand parents when they are alive, but when they are dead saradhs are held in their memory with the belief that the food served to the purohit will reach them. As part of saradh they also feed the dogs and crows. In this way Bhagat Kabir Ji has tried to impress upon the people that serving food to the purohit or the dogs and crows with the belief that it will reach their deceased ancestors is useless and that they should properly treat their parents and grand parents when they are alive.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first prophet-teacher of the Sikhs, during his preaching tours gave practical reasons as to why saradhs should not be held. He clarified as to why no food should be served to the purohits with the belief that it will reach one's ancestors. At Haridwar, Utter Pradesh the city situated on the shore of the Ganges river, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji saw that the pandits were splashing water towards the sun i.e. the east with the belief that this water will reach their gods and pittars. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji started splashing water towards the west. The pandits told him that he should splash water towards the east because the water splashed towards the west will neither reach the gods nor the pitters. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji told them that he was splashing water towards the west to irrigate his fields in Kartarpur which is on the right bank of the river Ravi (which is now in Pakistan). The pandits asked him as to how this water can reach his crops which are at a distance of hundreds of kilometers away. He told the Pandits that if his water cannot reach a place which is at a distance of about 500 kms, how can their water reach their pittars or the sun which is more than a million kilometres away.

When Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited Gaya, Bihar he saw that the pandits were misleading the folk. The pandits asked him to redeem his ancestors. He said that he has redeemed himself, his ancestors, his followers and their ancestors and that he has done such actions, through which he has dispelled the darkness of ignorance.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib it is clearly stated that in his/her next life the human being gets what he has given as alms out of his own income in this life. He will not get anything given by another person as alms in his/her name.

Thus, it is clear that saradhs are forbidden in Sikh religion. During saradhs Hindus do not buy any cloths, jewellery or property and also do not start any new ventures.

Dr. Amrit Kaur,

Retd. Professor, Punjabi University,

Patiala Punjab, India.

Have something to say? Post your comment