The various rituals performed during Shradh or Pitru paksha are a way of seeking forgiveness from the departed souls. This can also be termed as a way to confess our guilt about the inefficiency to serve our elders. Also if knowingly or unknowingly we had performed actions of hurt or pain for them. Shradh is a period of introspection and overcoming our own weaknesses.
Scientifically we may say that our services in the form of food or pind daan may not be received directly by our ancestors; but our noble intentions for them are surely received. Our humility and love is transmitted to the souls and moreover in order to adore them, we feed the needy and poor people.
By offering charity and donations for the happiness of our ancestors, we make an effort to contribute something for the welfare of humanity. Thus this period of shradh is actually an eye opener where people contribute their time, effort, wealth and even love to those who need it, in the reflection of their dead ancestors.
Moreover performing fast during this period is purely a healthy act of rejuvenation. This reveals that shradh is purely an occasion of performing noble and humble acts, in honour of our loving departed souls.
Pitru Paksha is a special time period during the Hindu year when Hindus pay homage to the departed souls of their ancestors by performing Shradh rituals at holy locations. Few of such sacred locations are as follows:
Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the seven sacred spots for Hindus and is widely known as the ‘Religious capital of India’. Pindan puja or Shanti Paath in Varanasi helps the soul attain salvation through fulfilment.
Allahabad: Situated at the confluence of three holy rivers: Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati; the city of Allahabad is piously sacred and important. To perform Pind Daan Kriya ceremony at the sangam ghat is considered highly auspicious for the departed souls; especially during Pitru Paksha Mela.
Ayodhya: Ayodhya is the birth place of Hindu God Shri Ram, said to be located above the Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu. Bharata Kund is a sacred place for offering Pind Daan kriya. It is believed that the departed souls attain salvation if the Shradh rituals are performed here.
Ujjain: One of the religious destinations of India, the city has wide range of religious and spiritual interest. By performing Pind daan kriya in Ujjain, the unfulfilled desires and services can be provided to the departed souls.
Haridwar: Haridwar as a place is known for its importance in conducting puja towards all deities as well as towards our deceased ancestors. The pujas including Pind Daan and yearly shraddha ritual can be performed here and have high religious importance.
Mathura: The city of majestic temples and huge religious history is believed to be the sacred place for performing pujan and tarpan to the pitras.
Kurukshetra: The historic and religious importance is widely known by all. Performing shradh ceremonies on the bank of river Saraswati frees the departed soul from the cycle of birth and death.
Gaya: The ancient city in Bihar on the banks of the river Phagu is quite important in Hinduism and is eternally blessed by the power of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the holiest locations for performing Shradh rituals.
Jagannath Puri: Situated on sea shore of Bay of Bengal in State of Orissa, the city caters to the religious needs of lakhs of devotees. It is widely known for conducting shradh rituals for the departed souls.
Dwarka: Being one of the 4 dhams, the place is one of the known moksh-daayi cities. The city is highly auspicious for performing shradh rites, as it is the city of Lord Krishna himself.