Pitri Paksha Mela – (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष मेला )
Pitri paksha (literally “fortnight of the ancestors”) is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestor (Sanskrit: Pitṛs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitru Pakshya, Pitri Pokkho, Kanagat, Jitiya, Sola Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”), Mahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (forthnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September) and follows the forthnight immediately after the Ganesh festival.
According to Hinduism, 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.
According to the sacred Hindu epics, at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Libra (Tula). Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants’ homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac—Scorpio (Vrichchhika)—and there is a full moon.
The performance of Shraddha by a son during Pitru Paksha is regarded as compulsory by Hindus, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven.