Pitru Paksha is a 16-lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings.
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan.
Pitra Paksha, also known as Mahalay, is a period of fifteen days. It is the time designated to give devotion or to offer respect to the dead and departed ancestors of the family. These Fifteen days are called ” Pitra Paksha”, or most popularly known as “Shraadh” days. They are also called by the name of “Kanagat.” The dark half of Ashvina (September-October) is observed as Pitra Paksha throughout the Hindu world.
The elder son or grandsons of the family performs shraadh in honor of the dead and offers respectful homage, during this period. It is believed that only after performance of Shraadh ritual, the soul of the deceased relative attains moksha.
According to Hindu mythology, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitru -loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru -loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shraddha offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru-loka are given Shraddha rites, in which Yama plays a significant role.