This is from my teacher, Komilla Sutton. All traditions have a way of honoring those relatives that have past but I have recently gotten in touch how much we are connected to our ancestors in our present life and the New Moon in Virgo Sept. 3oth this year is a culmination of a two week period and time to honor them between Sept. 17-30. Details below:
“Shraaddh are celebrated annual to honour the dead and their souls. people visit holy places to honour the departed souls and pray for the souls to rest in peace. This period is not considered auspicious to start any new ventures. Marriage do not take place during this time.
Shraaddha are also known as Pitris paksha. Paksha is a fortnight and the pitris paksha always takes places when the Moon is in its waning phase, Krishna Paksha. Shraddha usually take place 10 days after Ganesha Chathurti. This fortnight is left to pray to the dead. The New moon in Virgo signals the end of the Shraaddh.
Shraddha means faith and reverence. It is one of the important duties of every person according to the Hindu belief. Shraddha are performed in the Krishna paksha (waning Moon fortnight) before the new Moon is Virgo (sept. 17-30th) . The rituals performed during this time give great religious merit. The ancestors are worshipped and every effort is made to satisfy their wishes so that they can rest in peace for the rest of the year.
Shraddha means faith and reverence. It is one of the important duties of every person according to the Hindu belief.
Shraddha are performed in the Krishna paksha (waning Moon fortnight) before the new Moon is Virgo. The rituals performed during this time give great religious merit. The ancestors are worshipped and every effort is made to satisfy their wishes so that they can rest in peace for the rest of the year.
For Shraddha ceremonies, it is important to know the tithi of the death date of your ancestor. Tithi is the lunar day. For Shraaddh purposes, even if your ancestors died on a shukla paksha, you only consider the tithi. Corresponding tithi of this paksha becomes important annually during the Shraaddh. So if your ancestor died on shukla Saptami. You will do their Shraaddh on the Saptami of the Pitru paksha. Favourite food items of the departed person are specially prepared and offered after performing a puja, donations and given and people also travel to Gaya or other spiritual places to give special offerings. A small portion of the food is also offered to the crow. The Crow is considered as a connection between the living and the dead worlds.
The Shraaddh performed during Pitru Paksha are not funeral ceremonies. They are Yagyas for the Pitris, worship of the ancestors as deities. They are different from the worship of the God. Shraaddh is mainly performed for three generations of Pitris, namely the father, the grandfather and the great grandfather. When performed for all the ancestors benefit from it.
The final day of Pitris Paksha is the Mahalay Amavasya (the dark night before new moon)- Sept. 30th in 2016. This takes place when the Sun and Moon conjunct in Virgo. All the ancestors are prayed to on this day. The belief is that they all come down to earth from their abode to join the world of living for a day.
If you want to remember your departed loved ones, this is a good time to do so. If you do not know the tithi of their death, then you could do it on the amavasya day. Feed the poor, give donation and celebrate their life with a feast in their memory- usually a vegetarian and Sattvic food. Honour their memory and remember them with fondness.’
— Komilla Sutton