Prayers, pujas, homas and yagnas are performed by the pundits along with mantra-chanting in the name of the departed ancestors.
Shraad, also known as Pitru Paksha, is a fortnight period dedicated to the ancestors who have departed from this world. It is a period wherein Hindus intend to get connected to the departed souls of the family through some rituals prescribed in the scriptures.
It is a period where the departed souls are remembered by immediate family members, relatives and friends. The entire concept of Shraadh revolves around sending good vibes, positive feelings, well wishes and joy to the departed souls, wherever they might be. It is believed that Lord Yamaraj had offered a boon to mankind which states that the offerings given during this period would immediately reach the departed souls, wherever they are, whether in form or formless state, whether in human birth or not — the offerings and the prayers will reach the departed soul.
In this period, elaborate food preparations are made consisting of sweets, savouries and all those items which the departed souls had liked. It is believed that the joy we get by preparing and eating food items that our ancestors liked reaches the soul.
Prayers, pujas, homas and yagnas are performed by the pundits along with mantra-chanting in the name of the departed ancestors. These too help us in remembering our ancestors and we pray for their well being and happiness.
The special food prepared during the occasion is then first offered to the brahmins. Brahmins are considered to be the rightful entities to consume this special food during this Pitru Paksha. It is believed that the essence of this food, through these brahmins, reaches the ancestors, giving them peace, happiness and satisfaction.
Departed ancestors could be either in any one of these seven lokas — viz. Bhur Loka, Buva Loka, Swar Loka, Maha Loka, Jnana Loka, Tapa Loka or Satya Loka in appropriate bodies or they may be in the space in the astral body waiting to enter another physical body. In whichever body they are and in whichever condition they are they would receive the benefit of pujas, homas, yagnas and food offered to brahmins in a subtle form.
The benefit could reach the ancestors by way of a divine sound heard by them or a sweet-nectar taste or a peace-giving vision or a beautiful smell or a feeling of motherly lovable touch.
There is also a chance that the ancestors for whom the various rituals are performed during this period have been reborn in our world itself and are around us in the form of a child, neighbour, servant or as a pet animal in the house. In their new form we cannot recognise them but after the rituals the vibrations would spread in the entire universe and they would search the ancestral soul wherever they are and in whichever form they are in and give them the benefit of the rituals.