Why pray for the dead when their eternal destiny is already sealed and settled?
At the risk of sounding fussy, Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6 strictly forbid any attempt to summon the spirits of the dead, or to try to engage them in conversation.
I believe that people go to heaven or hell not purgatory....
we pray for the dead soul to rest in peace, go in peace and don't worry. Most dead souls couldn't leave behind their love ones.
The belief in Hinduism is that if the dead one's offspring should pray and also perform certain religious ceremonies regularly in fond remembrance of the dead with a sincere wish that the dead soul in some way be helped to progress in its spiritual evolution (not wandering like a ghost, lessening the punishment in hell, satisfying some of its unfulfilled desires etc).
Again there are other different view points related to this subject from different schools of Hinduism.
There are beliefs that the dead can hear us and, by those beliefs, we don't know what they are going through, their souls might be in suffering, my be stuck to a reality that is no longer theirs. Believers pray for the dead to let them go. It's a way to tell them they are dead but people still remember so they can rest in peace.
Other way of praying for the dead is, if we think about it, when people pray to Jesus or Mary, or any other saint which were, once, people who were living. Even though believers think those souls are in peace, they had no sins, they pray to them for help. Sometimes people also do that with loved ones... for help and comfort of the living and not to change the final destiny or comfort the dead.
First, your question assumes that the fate of the dead "is already sealed and settled." We don't know that it is. Many simply believe it to be the case.
Second, in Christianity as well as other religions, it is believed that God is benevolent and merciful, not malevolent and unforgiving, so some (including myself) believe that God isn't so rigid that he won't hear prayers by the living for the dead. I believe God loves us and doesn't want us to go to hell.
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