Hindus are bound by their Dharma, or religion, to pray for the souls of their ancestors. It’s a debt they must pay to stay happy. During Pitru Paksha or Shraadh, a 16-lunar-day period in the Hindu calendar which starts this year on September 1, people offer prayers, food and water to their ancestors.
Hindus believe that the departed wander in a realm between heaven and earth (‘Pitru Lok’). Here, they are restless and still attached to worldliness (‘Maya’). The prayers and ritual offerings during Pitru Paksha free the souls and help them transition towards ‘Brahmaloka’ or heaven.