What is the significance of some of these ceremonies?
In the Brahmin household, shraadhis an elaborate ceremony.
Women would prepare food from early morning, and only certain foods are eaten. Then the pundits would come, and perform a ceremony where the Devas (angels or gods) would be invited to bring the departed parents.
Three generations of parents would be remembered, and some rice balls would be put out to the crows. They would wait and watch from which direction the crows came, how they took the food, where it went, and if they were they satisfied?
It is like a tarot card reading; from the signs that are there, one would decipher what happened or what is happening. It is a little complicated, sometimes too complicated. The main thing would be about preparing elaborate food, and feeding people.
I think all this is man-made. Maybe there is something scientific in it. We should look in to it.
There is one ceremony called Tilla Tarpanam, offering sesame seeds with water.
I think the purpose of this ceremony is to tell people who have gone across that if you still have any desire in your mind, just drop it, because the desire is as small and insignificant as a sesame seed. We, your children, are here to fulfill those desires. You drop it and move on.
In India, tilla means smallest, tarpan is to be fulfilled, trupti means contentment. So, tarpanam means be contented.
We tell the departed three times, ‘Be contented!’
The message is, ‘You have left this world. Going there, do not keep hankering. If there is any discontent, let go. Move on. This world is enormous, huge, there is so much; you go to the light and leave this bondage here. If there is any desire of yours left unfulfilled, we are here to take care of it, as your children. You be content.’
These mantras are so nice, so beautiful.