Hindu Funeral Rites and Ancestor Worship 
Antyesti, Sraddha and Tarpana
5. The Feeding of the Brahmanas/Honoring the Pitrs
Along similar lines it was prescribed that during a sraddha ceremony it was also required that brahmanas be fed. The brahmanas were not to be considered as mere human beings, but as representative of the pitrs. The position of thebrahmana in a sraddha rite was therefore very high and they were regularly worshiped by the performer of the sraddha. When the brahmanas ate they ate on behalf of the pitrs. Their satisfaction was the satisfaction of the fathers. Although the germ of paying homage to the brahmanas is found in the Rg-Veda, the practice of feeding brahmanas was not in practice. In the Vedic period offerings for the dead were poured directly into the fire, which then carried the food to the fathers. The feeding of brahmanas was a practice that developed from the Grhya period. In the later periods, the brahmanas even came to occupy the position of the sacrificial fire. And so food and other such articles formally offered to the pitrs began to be offered to the brahmanas as their representatives on earth. In a further extension to this idea the brahmanabegan to represent, not only the pitrs, but even Brahman Itself. Consequently, when a brahmana ate Brahman ate, which meant that the whole world also ate.
The Time for Honoring the Pitrs
It is prescribed that the pitrs be worshiped during the dark times. As such, the new moon (amavasya), the dark side of the lunar month (krsna-paksa), the southern half of the sun’s course (daksayana), the afternoon, during an eclipse, during the night, and so forth, became the times when the pitrs were to be most respected. In fact, any degree of diminution of light has come to be associated with the worship of pitrs.
The Satapatha–brahmana explains how darkness and some other details came to be selected for the worship of the dead: The gods once approached Prajapati and said, “Give us a means to live.” Thereupon the gods were properly invested with the sacred thread over the left shoulder and were taught to bend using the right knee. To the gods Prajapati said, “Sacrifice shall be your food, immortality your sap, svah your call and the sun your light.” Then the pitrs approached Prajapati wearing the sacred thread over the right shoulder and bending from the left knee. To them Prajapati said, “Your eating shall be monthly, your call shall be svadha and the moon shall be your light.” In this way the harmony between the gods and the pitrs was maintained. One is worshipped in light and the other is worshipped in darkness.
The operative rule underlying most of Hindu culture is that the light of the sun was used as a symbol for knowledge and consciousness. Vastu-sastraprescribes that temples and homes must open to the rising sun in the east. Temple images should also face the east. Uttarayana, the time of increasing daylight, is considered more auspicious than daksinayana, the time of diminishing daylight. In contrast, death, which is associated with the loss of consciousness, has come to be symbolized by darkness. As the sun is an eternal source of light and so has become a symbol for God and the divine life, so the moon, has become a symbol for the cycle of birth and death. The moon regularly moves between light and darkness. Similarly, the word deva is derived from the Sanskrit root div meaning to shine. The devas are, therefore, “the shining ones.” The pitrs, on the other hand, are bathed in the light of the moon and so in this way are distinguished from the gods.
In the Satapatha-brahmana it is stated that three seasons, the spring, the summer and the rainy season belong to the gods. These three seasons together make the uttarayana or the time when the sun is on the northern course. As noted above, this is the time of increasing light in the northern hemisphere. In contrast, autumn, early winter and late winter belong to the fathers. These three seasons comprise daksinayana, the time when the sun is on the southern course. This of course is the time of failing light in the northern hemisphere. In particular, the dark side of the month of bhadrapada(September October) has been singled out as the best time for the worship of fathers. A sraddha performed in this period was said to produce special merit.
The manner in which the worship of the pitrs are worshiped during the month of bhadrapada is as follows. If one’s father happened to pass away on the 5th lunar day of any month (pancami-tithi) then the 5th tithi during the dark side of the month of bhadrapada would be used for honoring one’s father and the other pitrs of the family. If one’s relative happened to pass away on the 6th tithithen the 6th tithi during the dark side of the month of bhadrapada would be used for honoring one’s father and the other pitrs. In this way, all 16 tithis of the dark side of the month of bhadrapada cover all the possible lunar days on which a family member could expire.
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 Daksayana occurs when the daylight is shortest in the northern hemisphere.
 During a fire sacrifice (yajna) oblations are offered into the fire with two expressions,svah and svadha. Offerings made to devas are made with the sound svah and offering for thepitrs are made using the sound svadha.
 SB ii.1.3, 1-3.
 Some sastras mention that the dark side of the month of asvina should be set aside for the worship of the fathers, but this works out to be the same time period as the dark side of the month of bhadrapada. This is because in some parts of South India the lunar month is calculated from the first day of the bright fortnight to the new moon, whereas in north India the month is calculated from the first day of the dark fortnight to the full moon. In this way, the dark fortnight after the full moon of the month of bhadrapada is equivalent to the dark side of asvina.