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In some religious texts, it is considered more important to do Pitra Kriya (ritual for a forefather) than Dev Kriya (ritual to please a God).
The importance of shradh is mentioned in ancient scriptures like Garuda Purana, Matsya Purana, Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana and Manu Smriti, which underscore the benefits of performing shraadh.
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Pitra Dosh is a big phenomenon in Hindu dharma, and more and more people are spending time, effort and money in performing rituals to free themselves of this "ancestral curse". Pitra Paksha is the name of the phase when Hindus perform certain rituals to honour their ancestors with feelings of respect and love, but in today's times, it seems to be more out of fear of misfortune or to seek material favours.
The Upanishads mention the story of Nachiketa, where Lord Yama describes to the devoted Nachiketa the journey of a soul.
Then, recitation of the Ganga Avatarana chapter from Valmiki Ramayan is said to grant satisfaction to Pitra and thus ensure their blessings upon us.
So, it is the human body which ends at the time of death and the soul residing in the body, bears pleasure and pain because of desires still present in this yoni.
The philosophy behind this is that if we caused some unhappiness to our ancestors when they were alive, or if we have easily forgotten the ancestors who have left us, their souls are displeased and heap curses on us. The 15-day period starts with Pratipada Shraadh (20 September this year) and ends with Sarvapitri Amavasya (on 4 October this year).
Since that Amavasya day marks the beginning of Ashwin Navataras, the Pitra Paksha is also known as Mahalaya Pitra Paksha.
Pitra, or Pitru, refers to the lineage of one's deceased ancestors who are believed to exist in soul form.
When Pitras are satisfied, the Hindu belief is that the Devatas known as Vasus (incharge of wealth), Rudras (incharge of protection and courage), and Adityas (incharge of health), will be pleased and grant favours accordingly.