Indians follow the practice of honouring their ancestors. Notable is the practice of setting aside a few days in a year as the period most auspicious for propitiating the ancestors.
In India, this period is the fortnight called Mahalaya Paksha, which is the lunar, dark fortnight in September – October.
Mahalaya means the abode of the great souls. Mahan means great soul and alaya is abode, residence.
Sun and Moon Alignments
During Mahalaya Paksha, the Sun is aligned with the Libra zodiac, which means the Moon when full, lies aligned with the star in Aries Zodiac called Bharani in Indian astronomy.
Mahalaya Amavasya: Fortnight from Full Moon
This star in Indian astronomy is associated with the Lord of Death, Yama. So, the fortnight starting from this Full Moon is observed as the time to pay respects to ancestors so that these prayers and offerings will reach the abode of Yama who can facilitate their reaching the souls of the ancestors.