Brahhm Purana or the Apodhghat Pada in chapters 9-15. 10-99 states that Manu, as the pioneer of Shraddh. In chapters of 3.1.30 and 44.38 of Visnu Purana and Bhagwat chapters 3.1.22 have stated them as Shraddh Dev, who is said to be the God of the shraddh ceremony. Similarly in Mahabharata's chapter of Shanti Parva 345.14-21andVis'nu Dharamottar in chapters 1.139.14-16 have mentioned the origin of Shraddh ceremony during the times of Vraha manifestation of Vis'nu, and that the Pinds offered to father, grandfather and great grandfather, should be well thought as offered to God Vis'nu. Thus it is clear that the Shraddh ceremony tradition was started many centuries before the Christ and that it is as ancient as Manu, the father of mankind.
The term 'Shraddh' in not found in the Vedas, but the reference of this ceremony was found as Pind Pitri Yageya in Chaturmas or Sank megh and Ashtaka Kato Upanishad's chapters 1.3.17 mentions the word 'Shraddh'. The one, who declares this in the gathering of the Brahmins and it, attains immortality. So when there was a raise in the deeds done in honor of the ancestors, the word Shraddh came into common practice. There is a deep relationship between the words Shraddh and SrSddha and the latter one means veneration. According to definitions given in B'rhm Purana, Marichi and Brihaspati both the terms have diverse meaning but somewhat similar.
The donor or the performer of Shraddh, has an absolute conviction in the fact that whatever is offered in Shraddh to the Brahmins, it arrives at his ancestors. Skanda Purana's chapters 6.218.3 state that it has been called the Shraddh, because in this ceremony, reverence or veneration is primary. Markandey Purana, in its chapters 29.27 pronounces that whatever is offered in Shraddh, alters into similar forms along with the ancestors, according to actions or deeds and transmigration dogma, gets in their new body.
There was a classification of performance of five yageyas by every householder before Shatpath Brahaman. They are namely, hhaot yageya, B'Rhm Yageya, Manush Yageya, Dev Yageya and Pitri Yageya. In Shatpath Brahamana and Taitreye Aranayaka in chapters 2.10, it is mentioned that Ahvik yageya, Dev Yageya, Pitri Yageya and B'rhm Yageya. In Shatpath Brahamana and Taitreye Aranayaka, chapters 2.10 it is clearly mentioned that Ahvik yageya is called Pitri Yageya. This rite is the one in which food and water is given to the ancestors.
In the chapters of 3.70, Manu has defined Pitri Yageya to be tarpan or satisfaction of the ancestors by offerings and libation of water. Manu in the chapters 3.83 has advised that every day, milk, food and water, vegetables and fruits should be given to the ancestors during the ceremony of Shraddh.
Mahabharata gives a vivid example in ancient times, particularly the tnahrishi Atri Mahabharata gives an instance that in ancient times, mahrishi Atri originated from B'rhma. In his family, Datatareye was born. Mini was his son, who was the mother of Shriman. He underwent simplicity for thousands of years and then expired. His father Nimi was brokenhearted. His crematory rites were performed ceremoniously at the time of his death. On the 14th day of his death, Mini collected all material for the Shraddh of his son. Next day, on 15th, Amavaseye day, forgetting his sorrow, he performed Shraddh, observing all rites. Everything his son loved, were arranged and served to the Brahmins. On the amavaseye day, he invited seven Brahmins, paid homage to them, and served them with the food, etc.
Shraddh is normally performed in respect to ancestors, but Nimi observed it in respect of his son, so he was depressed on account of deviating from an ancient religious custom. His mentor, Maharshi Atri consoled him and explained the ceremony of Shraddh, as having been originated from God Brahma. According to that the first part of Shraddh is dedicated to Agni by virtue of which evildoers like Rakshasas, Asuras. After the ceremony stats they eventually go away from the site of the Shraddh. Next offering is to the father then to the grandfather and the last to the great grandfather, pronouncing their names. He explained that the ancestor worship should preferably be done on the banks of a holy river.
Brihit Prashar in the chapter of P 153 has opined that on some occasions the rite of Shraddh may not be strictly observed. Boudhayan and Vridshatatappa in the book of Smriti Chandrika, chapter 337 has permitted the performance of this rite for anyone, out of love and affection, thus allaying the fears of Nimi. As we shall see later, some kinds of Shraddh, allow the performance of ceremony in respect to anyone.