Tarpaṇa (Sanskrit: तर्पण, Bengali: তর্পণ, Kannada: ತರ್ಪಣ, Tamil: தர்ப்பணம்) is a term in the Vedic practice that refers to an offering made to divine entities. It refers to the act of offering as well as the substance used in the offering. Tilatarpana (तिलतर्पण, তিলতর্পণ, ತಿಲತರ್ಪಣ, திலதர்பணம்) is a specific form of tarpana involving libations offered to the pitri (deceased ancestors) using water and sesame seeds during Pitru Paksha or as a death rite.
Tarpana is a form of arghya (an offering). It is offered to all devas as well as the Navagrahas whenever mulamantra is recited as japa.
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Tilatarpana is the tarpana (or arghya) offered to pitris (departed ancestors) by male descendants who do not have a living father. This is offered at the first annual shraddha (death anniversary) and during subsequent annual shraddhas, amavasyas (new moon days), sankramanas (solar ingresses), eclipses, and during visits to selected holy places of pilgrimage.
The hand while offering tarpana varies for offerings made to devas (Gods, Goddesses and Navagrahas), rishis (sages) and pitrus (departed ancestors).
Gingelly is not to be confused with sesame, which is from a large tree; gingelly is a small seed that stores energy and hence is considered a favorite of all Devas, Shani (Saturn) and pitrus. Lord Ganesha is commonly offered pancha-kajjaya, a delicacy made using sesame. Lord Shiva is worshipped with sesame seeds (tilakshata). For Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Saraswati, gingelly seeds are used in their favorite eatables. It is used as a homa dravya (an ingredient in the fire offerings) in many havans and homas. Therefore, tila (gingelly) and tilatarpana should not be dismissed as inauspicious.
It is believed that one's pitris eagerly await tarpana. If no offering is made, they return to their places disappointed, and the descendant misses their blessings that he would have received, if he had performed his filial duties. Kosha Kushi is an important ritual item used in the Tantric worship of the Divine Mother and represents the yoni and womb of the Goddess, as well as the astral body within the physical body and the microcosm within the macrocosm.