In India, this Krishnapaksh/dark fortnight of Bhadrapad month is the Pitru paksh or the Mahalaya paksh. In these 15 days we remember our dead ancestors with gratitude and offer them energy in the form of water and food energised with mantras. This is a duty for every household and exclusive to the males. The women help by preparing the food but the actual exercise with the mantras and tarpan is done by the males.
Tarpan is the ritual performed to gain access to the dead ancestors/Pitru. A Puja is the ritual for accessing the Gods/Devata and the Dhyan is the practice done to access One’s own self.
During these 15 days the energies are such that the Pitrus who generally inhabit the “Pitru Lok” can enter and move quite freely in our “Martya Lok”. The Pitrus exist in the Pitru Lok until such a time that they have to come for another birth. If you can see auras or are sensitive to energies, for these 15 days evening twilight time can be quite heavy and oppressive. Avoid taking very young children out of the house during these few hours as they can sense energies and may get scared by what they may see.
There is a tradition of calling the 7 generations of ancestors on the father’s side by name and the rest as “everyone else”. The Y chromosome is all important and this process of Tarpan is somehow linked to maleness. The Tarpan has 2 benefits, the male who is offering the energies benefits if his intention is clear and of course the ancestors benefit and take the tarpan energies if given with gratitude.
We are our ancestors. I am 50% my mom and 50% my dad, 25% of each of my 4 grandparents and so on. At the 7th ancestor level the contribution of each individual ancestor goes below 1%.
I have seen modern feminist women trying to show off by doing the rituals related to funeral rites and dead ancestors but there is no energy generated around them. It may be a plus to feminism but of no use to the dead for which it is being done and may actually harm the women who are doing it and their children.
If you wish to offer gratitude to your dead ancestors during this period, the easiest way is through a coconut. On Sarvapitri Amavasya, in the morning, in your puja room or outside or terrace, if you prefer, facing the south, take a coconut, shake it to feel the water sloshing inside, it should have water in it. Remove the fibrous material around it leaving only a tuft at the side of the 3 “eyes”. Hold it on your hands, offer some kumkum, turmeric, unbroken raw rice, flowers, etc on it. If you are married, ask your wife to also pray with intention touching the coconut. Intend that you are grateful to your dead ancestors and pray for their wellbeing. Keep it simple. And in one sharp movement dash the coconut on the ground and ensure that it breaks. Fold your hands and again repeat your intention. That is it! The broken pieces of coconut etc can be put in running water, or sea or if not possible under a tree somewhere. If you are a woman and want to show gratitude to your dead ancestors, do everything as above but ask your husband to dash the coconut on the ground to break it.
Ignored ancestors cause problems too, as during these 15days they have access to this world. Most commonly pitru related problems manifest as delays in marraige and delay or denial of progeny. In the horoscopes placement of Rahu/Ketu in the 9th house, or connected to the 9th house lord indicate pitru related problems. For these there are specific mantras and tarpans for which your pujari/pandit will scare you then charge you. But as I have always said Intention is everything and a coconut broken with intention also works fine.
Show gratitude, it will make you feel lighter. Our ancestors are linked to us by our blood and our DNA. They are us and we are them.
Everything and everyone resonates.