Importance of Ellu or Thilam or Til in Tarpanam Ritual dedicated to the Dead

Tarpanam is an important ritual dedicated to the dead and it is the offering of Black Til – Sesame. It is known as Ellu or Thilsam in regional languages. The tarpanam itself is also known as Thila Tarpanam in South India. But why is Til exclusively offered to the dead and is part of Shradh rituals.

Til contains fire, water and earth. Only Til has the correct combination of the three elements. Pitrus come down and enter Til during the Shradh ceremony. Pancha Bhutas which form the body is represented through Til.

If one eats Til it produces heat in the body this is Agni.

Til contains oil and this is fluid.

Black color is associated with earth.

The Pancha Bhutas are space, air, fire, water and earth.