During the Pitripaksha period, also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, Pitri Pokkho, Sorah Shraddha ("sixteen shraddhas"), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya. Hindus observe a sacred fortnight dedicated to honoring their departed ancestors, or Pitris. This observance takes place during the dark fortnight of the month of Asvayuja (September-October). It is believed that during this time, the barrier between the physical and spiritual realms is thin, allowing for a closer connection with the Pitris.
The central ritual during Pitripaksha is the performance of the Sraaddha ceremonies. Shraddha involves offering food and prayers to the ancestors as a gesture of gratitude, seeking blessings, and providing spiritual nourishment. These ceremonies are a way to express reverence and ensure the well-being of the deceased in their afterlife.
During the Sraaddha ceremony, specific offerings of food, water, and symbolic items are made to the ancestors. It is believed that these offerings directly reach the Pitris, thanks to a divine boon from Lord Yama, the lord of death.
In addition to Sraaddha, it is customary to visit sacred rivers like the Ganges and perform tarpana, an act of offering water to the ancestors. This ritual is thought to purify and elevate the souls of the departed, granting them peace in the afterlife.
The Pitripaksha period concludes on Mahalaya Amavasya, the new moon day (14th Sep), which is considered the most significant day for performing obsequies and similar rites. By offering prayers and conducting rituals on this day, Hindus believe they can bring peace and liberation to the souls of their ancestors, ensuring their spiritual journey is harmonious.