Fatiha (Arabic for beginning, opening or inaugural) refers literally to the first sura or chapter of the holy quran and to the non-ritual prayers for the dead which include reciting verses from the Quran, particularly the first sura.
The first sura of the Quran is Sura Fatiha, which praises Allah and asks Allah for guidance. The sura is referred to variously as: fatihatul kitab (the beginning of the book), suratud dua (the prayer sura), ummul kitab (the essence of the book), etc. It contains seven ayats (verses) and was revealed at the beginning of hazrat muhammad's (Sm) prophethood. The fatiha is recited at the beginning of every raka'at in namaz.
Fatiha also refers to the session of prayers for the dead during which the Holy Quran is recited. The observance is also referred to as fatihakhwani (reciting the fatiha). The fatiha ceremony held three days after someone's death is called qulkhwani; the one held after 40 days is called chehlum. [Muhammad Abdul Baqi]