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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Gajacchāyā literally means ‘shadow of an elephant’.

Calendars have certain combinations of lunar days and asterisms which are considered very good. The gajacchāyā is one of them. When the moon is in the Maghā or Makhā nakṣatra[1] and the sun in the Hastā,[2] the period is considered to be very sacred, especially for the performance of śrāddhas.

The śrāddha recommended here is to be performed in the shadow of an elephant. Hence it is named so.[3] It gives gratification to the manes for thousands of kalpas.[4] This śrāddha can be performed during the inter-calary months (adhika or mala māsa) also.


  1. Makhā nakṣatra is the 10th constellation of 5 stars.
  2. Hastā is the 13th constellation of 5 stars.
  3. Gaja = elephant; chāyā = shadow
  4. Kalpas means extraordinarily long periods of time.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore