By Swami Harshananda
Mahālayaśrāddha literally means ‘śrāddha performed on the festival day of the pitṛs or manes’.
Performance of śrāddhas to appease the dead ancestors is an integral part of the rituals. Out of these, the mahālayaśrāddha is a well-known rite. It is to be performed during the kṛṣṇapakṣa or the dark half of the month of Bhādrapada (September) when the sun is in the Kanyālagna (Virgo). It is supposed to give great joy to the manes. It can be performed for the benefit of not only the paternal and maternal ancestors but also for other relatives. The procedure is almost identical with that of pārvaṇaśrāddha.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore