Pitru yagna is the best tradition come down from the Vedic times and should be carried on by one until one`s lifetime.
- The fortnight of Aswayuja or Purattasi in the months of September–October on Krishna paksha or the waning phase is observed as mahalaya paksha. This period is very important and special for observances of shraddha.
- It is also called pitr paksha, mahalaya paksha, pitri pokho, pitru pakshya, sola shraddha, kanagat, jitiya, or apara paksha.
- This is a 15-day lunar period to propitiate the ancestors.
- This year, it falls from 20th September to 4th October.
It involves oblations of water and rites to the deceased of three-preceding generations by calling upon their names. The present generation owes their existence to the previous generations and this debt is cleared through propitiation to them on these days.
Hindus observe the 15-day period religiously by taking bath thrice, partial fasting, feeding the Brahmins, and donating to the poor and needy. It is believed whatever is given as charity would directly reach the ancestors and immense merit would be accrued.
Importance of Mahalaya PakshaRites performed for each of the 15 days of the fortnight are considered important and considered equal to that being performed in holy places like Gaya. Offerings made to the Pitrus during this fortnight reach them directly as ordained by Lord Yama. Offerings reach all departed souls, whether they are directly related to those offering them or not. Those ancestors who had lost their lives in an unnatural manner or by accident or suicide would also be able to get the offerings which would not be possible at other times. Those whose death dates are not known and annual rites cannot be performed too will benefit by these offerings. Thila or sesame seeds tarpana and pinda pradhana or rice ball offerings are made to departed ancestors during the fortnight. The food offerings reach the dead through the rays of the sun.
Benefits of Observance of ShraddhaOfferings made would give peace to the ancestors and they would bestow their blessings for health, longevity, knowledge, wealth and liberation too, on those who perform, according to the sacred scriptures. Rites when not performed by the descendants for their ancestors would make them aimlessly wander in the earth plane. Such a state would result in unfavorable conditions for the family members. Performing rites to ancestors would solve many problems related to health, marriage, money, family discord, and others. Feeding of the poor should be done and crows should also be fed with the offerings made to the ancestors.
- During this 15-day period, new projects and undertakings should be avoided.
- Overseas travel and long journeys are to be avoided. Pilgrimages can be undertaken.