It is a system of offerings for deceased ancestors, based upon the Vedas. It is perhaps the strongest feature of Vedic Hinduism to have survived into the modern period. On the day of the death of a person it is the eldest living son who serves as the sacrifices in the cremation rites and who conducts ceremonies so that the spirit of the deceased can loin the company of his or her ancestors. Without these ceremonies the spirit can become a troublesome ghost. Ceremonies and rituals take place for eleven days culminating on the twelfth day when priests are fed and given presents, sometimes of great value.
In addition to these sraddhas linked to a specific death, other sraddhas for the ancestors may be held on the new- moon of each month or annually when the ancestors, represented by Brahmin (priest) surrogates are fed. Food is also given to crows, cows etc. Sraddha rituals performed on the banks of the sacred river at centres like Benares or Gaya are beneficial for the spirits of the ancestors.