dark fortnight which falls in the Hindu calendar month of
Bhadrapad (September) is known as Pitr-Paksha or Mahalay Paksha
all over the Hindu World. This period is regarded to be an ideal
ocassion to perform rites for the deceased ancestors to keep their
spirit gratified for years.
It is a traditional religious belief that deceased ancestors from
Lord Yamaraja's region visit their homes on earth during this
time. So, if the rite of shraddha is performed on one of the days
in the fortnight, then the subtle bodies of ancestors is
considered to remain gratified for years.
Pitru Paksha reminds us of our subtle existence and requirement of
our subtle or spiritual needs in the form of rites like shraddha
to ensure a smooth passage from physical existence to the subtle
planes.By focussing solely on gross sciences, many of these subtle
measures are not practiced, even forgotten in western countries.
Funeral rites and Shraddha are different.While funeral rites are
considered inauspicious, Shraddha is auspicious and gratifying.
Pitrapaksha gives a chance to repay debt to our deceased ancestors
by gratifying their spirits. As such, Shraddha is a "debt of the
dead"or "ceremonies of the dead" which should be performed,
assuming that the dead ones are alive amongst us. The Lord of
death, Yamaraja enables the dead ones to come to earth and receive
offers from the descendants.This practice is made to the dead
petras and pitras.
It is believed that one owes three main debts, first to
Devarina(Debt to the gods ), Rishirina (Debt to the Guru) and
Petranina (Debt to the forefathers).While most people prefer to
perform Shraddhas' at their homes, the most devout perform
Shraddha at the designated holy place.
Only after the Shraddha, he/she attains a position among the
Petris or Divine Fathers in their blissful abode called Pitri-loka.
Generally, considered most desirable and efficacious when Shraddha
is performed by a son. Ritual of Shraddha should be performed for
one's grandfather, father on the paternal side and the mother etc
on the maternal side. Names of all livinzg poersons should not be
associated with the rituals.