Mahalaya Paksha, also known as 'pitru paksha'. Mahath+aalayam is mahalayam that is our ancestors living in different golas / khandas conjointly arriving to the place where we live. According to our Shastras this paskha has immense values and gives satisfaction to the pitrus. During the paksha the souls of the pitrus will descend to earth and will be present around their current biological descendants to see and bless them. Hence nitya tarpana is highly recommended if possible.
This year, the Mahalaya Paksha starts from 1st September 2020 ends on 17th Septembr 2020. During the mahalaya paksham the snanam in punya nadi (rivers) pitru tarpanam, mantra japam and danam has to be performed.
Hiranya Sraaddha (without homam): Perform Mahalayam as hiranya rupam with five (or six as the case may be) Brahmanaas which involves the following:
1. Offering Rice, Dhal and Plantain (Banana)
2. Offering Thulasi, Chandanam etc
3. Offering Sambhavanai
At the end of this Hiranya Rupa Sraaddha, there will be a mandatory tarpanam also.
Of course, to whomever it is possible and convenient, they can do nitya tarpanam during all the days of this pitru paksha in addition to observing one hiranya sraaddha on any convenient day. Those who wish to to this nitya tarpanam, better consult their vadhyar for exact procedures and sankalpams.
This Hiranya rupa Sraaddha also has tarpanam as part of it in which one can offer tarpanam for Karunika pitrus also in addition to his own pitrus. Karunika pitrus means, one can do tarpanam not necessarily for his own pitrus alone. Only in this paksha, one can do tarpanam for other people who could be one’s friends or relative
The karta should be in control of himself during the paksha. Control implies eating only at home, and not eating outside except at a brother's place or in his maternal uncle's or in-law' place. Shaving, having an oil-bath and conjugation are to be avoided.
During the Mahalaya paksha one can perform the sraaddha on any convenient day, not necessarily on the day of the so called his father\'s thithi. Of course if the date of the Pratyabdhika Sraaddha falls in this Paksha, it is quite possible for some, then they have to perform the Mahalaya sraaddha only after the annual sraaddha, not earlier.
However, some days are special and more powerful for performing sraaddha during this fortnight. Those days are Maha Bharani, Gajachaaya (thrayodasi), Madhyashtami. In addition to these, Vyatheepadham and Dwadasi days are also considered great.