Paryushan Parva: Jains enter period of intense meditation and forgiveness

White temple agains sunset sky

The Manas Mandir Jain Temple in India. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

MONDAY, AUGUST 29: The deepest spiritual period of the year arrives for Jains today with the festival of Paryushana. For eight or 10 days (Swetambar Jains observe Paryushana for eight days; Digambar Jains observe for 10), adherents fast, study sacred texts and make a renewal of faith.

In comparison to other world religions, Jainism incorporates an especially deep concern and respect for all living beings, from animals and insects, to plants and root vegetables. (Learn more from Jain World.) Jain monks uphold this value to the highest level.

Did you know? Swetambar Jains observe the festival as Paryushana; Digambars refer to it as Das Lakshana. Some Jains in the United States observe the festival for 18 days, which combines the Swetambar and Digambar periods.

During the eight-day festival for Swetambar Jains, the Kalpa Sutra is recited, which includes a portion on the birth of Mahavira, the final Tirthankara, or spiritual exemplar. Some Swetambar Jains recite the Antagada Sutra, which describes the lives of men and women who attained moksha, or soul liberation, during the era of Mahavira. In many communities, a procession is made to the main temple during Paryushana.

Looking for recipes? Many observant Jains already keep a vegetarian diet, but during the period of Paryushan Parva, additional dietary restrictions are practiced. Find 35 delicious Parushan recipes at Archana’s Kitchen, and Indian food blog website.

Indian boy standing against concrete wall holding basket

A young Jain stands outside of a temple in India. Photo by Meena Kadri, courtesy of Flickr

THE FESTIVAL OF FORGIVENESS

A vital element of the Paryushan Parva is the asking of forgiveness—from other persons, animals and any other form of life, whether the offense is known or not. Jains ask forgiveness with the words “Micchami Dukkadam,” or “Uttam Kshama,” which conveys the meaning: “If I have cause you offense in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.” This ritual may be referred to as the rite of universal friendship.

For the duration of this festival, Jains are expected to uphold 10 specific virtues:

  • Forgiveness
  • Modesty/humility
  • Straightforwardness
  • Contentment/purity
  • Truth
  • Self-restraint
  • Penance
  • Renunciation
  • Non-attachment
  • Supreme celibacy
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Anant Chaturdashi: Jains practice forgiveness, Hindus immerse Ganesha

Statue colorful of Lord Ganesha over massive crowd agains grey stormy sky

Traditionally, statues of Lord Ganesha are paraded down the streets before being immersed in water on Anant Chaturdashi. Photo courtesy of Flickr

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27: For Hindus and across India, the past 10 days have filled homes, temples and the streets with colorful and vivid Ganeshotav figures, offerings of sweet modak treats and prayers to the beloved deity. Today, thousands of figures of Lord Ganesh are carried to rivers, lakes and other bodies of water in singing and dancing processions, to complete a final ritual for Ganesh Chaturthi. Today is known as Anant Chaturdashi—the day that Lord Ganesha departs, until next year’s festival.

Did you know? Lokmanya Tilak (1856-1920 CE) changed Ganesh Chaturthi from a private to a public event, to “bridge the gaps between Brahmins and non-Brahmins.”

On Anant Chaturdashi, Hindus carry Ganesh statues to bodies of water for immersion. In parts of India, a special bowl containing milk, curd, jaggery, honey and ghee is meant to symbolize an “Ocean of Milk.” (Wikipedia has details.) A thread containing 14 knots—and representing Lord Anant—is swirled through the milk mixture, and then tied to the right arm (for a man) or the left arm (for a woman). The Anant thread is kept tied to the arm for 14 days.

The legend behind Anant Chaturdashi tells of a woman named Sushila and her husband, Kaundinya. While journeying, Sushila came across a group of women performing “Anant’s Vow,” which included, among other things, the 14-knot string tied to the arm. Sushila took the vow, and she and Kaundinya became very wealthy—until Kaundinya doubted the power of Sushila’s thread and threw it into the fire. Courses turned, and the couple came to live in extreme poverty. Finally, Kaundinya realized his error and attempted penance. After much effort, Kaundinya realized that Vishnu was Anant. Vishnu promised Kaundinya that if he would make a 14-year vow, his sins would be forgiven and he would obtain wealth and happiness, once again.

JAINS: FORGIVENESS AND THE END OF PARYUSHANA

Jains observe Anant Chaturdashi as the end of das lakshan parva, or Paryushana—the eight-day festival of meditation, fasting and purification. Many adherents take measures to observe all religious restrictions on Anant Chaturdashi (fasting, observing the 10 Virtues, etc.), and temples are filled with Jains in prayer and meditation. The faithful ask forgiveness of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and enemies, with some offering puja to the Tirthankars (spiritual exemplars).

NEWS: A COLLISION OF MAJOR HOLIDAYS & A MEAT BAN

Authorities are issuing warnings in anticipation of possible conflicts between the Muslim Eid al-Adha (Sept. 23, sunset) and Ganesh Chaturthi (Sept. 17-27). (Times of India has the story.) As both are major holidays for their respective religions, authorities urge groups to keep to themselves and take respective measures, such as keeping Anant processions on traditional routes.

This year, more than five Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states of India have banned the sale of meat during the Jain festival of Paryushana and, in some regions, on Anant Chaturdashi. (Hindustan Times reported.) The slaughter and sale of meat, fish and poultry has been banned during these festival days, and hotels and restaurants may not serve any non-vegetarian dishes.

 

 

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Categories: Faiths of IndiaHinduJain

Paryushana: Jains seek purification during festival of meditation, forgiveness

Jain Temple of Phoenix Arizona

Jain Temple of Greater Phoenix. Photo by Vijay J Sheth released for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Enormous stone carved temple against blue sky

The Adinath Jain Temple in India. Photo by Lapidin, courtesy of Flickr

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: The deepest spiritual period of the year arrives for Jains today with the festival of Paryushana. For eight or 10 days (Swetambar Jains observe Paryushana for eight days; Digambar Jains observe for 10), adherents fast, study sacred texts and make a renewal of faith.

In comparison to other world religions, Jainism incorporates an especially deep concern and respect for all living beings, from animals and insects, to plants and root vegetables. (Learn more from Jain World.) Jain monks uphold this value to the highest level.

Did you know? Swetambar Jains observe the festival as Paryushana; Digambars refer to it as Das Lakshana. Some Jains in the United States observe the festival for 18 days, which combines the Swetambar and Digambar periods.

During the days of this festival, Jains are expected to uphold 10 specific virtues including: forgiveness; modesty/humility; straightforwardness; contentment/purity; truth; self-restraint; penance; renunciation; non-attachment and supreme celibacy. (Wikipedia has details.)

During the eight-day festival for Swetambar Jains, the Kalpa Sutra is recited, which includes a portion on the birth of Mahavira, the final Tirthankara, or spiritual exemplar. Some Swetambar Jains recite the Antagada Sutra, which describes the lives of men and women who attained moksha, or soul liberation, during the era of Mahavira. In many communities, a procession is made to the main temple during Paryushana.

THE FESTIVAL OF FORGIVENESS

A vital element of the Paryushan Parva is the asking of forgiveness—from other persons, animals and any other form of life, whether the offense is known or not. Jains ask forgiveness with the words “Micchami Dukkadam,” or “Uttam Kshama,” which conveys the meaning: “If I have cause you offense in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.” This ritual may be referred to as the rite of universal friendship.

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Categories: Jain

Mahavir Jayanti: Jains honor the life of Mahavir and promote non-violence

Elaborate white temple with several pillars on street in India

The Shri Mahavirji Temple of Karauli, Rajasthan, in India, devoted to Mahavira. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

THURSDAY, APRIL 2: The most significant holiday of the year arrives for Jains with Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the final Tirthankar, Mahavira. (In the Jain religion, each cycle of time, according to the laws of nature, gives birth to 24 Tirthanars. Though not an incarnation of God, a Tirthankar is a soul that has attained ultimate purity and possesses divine power.)

On Mahavir Jayanti, Jains visit elaborately decorated temples for religious rituals, prayer, and ceremonial baths of Mahavira statues. Many Jains spend this holiday meditating on the path of virtue defined by Jain teachings, and live out that path by acting in charity. (Learn more about Jain doctrine at JainWorld.com.) In India, Mahavir Jayanti is a national holiday.

BIRTH LEGEND AND LIFE OF MAHAVIRA

Jain belief holds that Mahavira was born the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala, in 599 BCE. While pregnant, Queen Trishala experienced a series of dreams about her unborn child, and astrologers revealed that she would give birth to either an emperor or a Tirthankar.

While young, Mahavira developed an interest in Jainism and began meditating. By age 30, he was an ascetic who spent more than a decade seeking spiritual truth. Mahavira spent the remainder of his life preaching non-violence and righteousness. (Wikipedia has details.) Mahavira spoke widely of the importance of karma, indicating that an accumulation of bad karma leads to suffering, confusion and continued cycles of life and death.

IN THE NEWS:
HOLIDAYS IN INDIA & A VEGAN YOUTH RALLY

Christians worldwide are gearing up for the Easter Triduum and Easter, but in India, a jam-packed week of holidays is also on the agenda. Experts are voicing fears for potential disruptions in stock market transactions, exports and shipments, as banks close for 7.5 of 9 days. (Business Standard reported.) This week in India brings the national observances of Ramanavami, Mahavir Jayanti, Good Friday and two annual days of closing, along with the regular closing on Sundays.

In Jaipur, a Jain youth organization will hold a rally promoting vegetarianism on April 2, as part of the week-long Mahavir Jayanti festival. The purpose of the rally is to raise awareness of eating ethically and non-violently. Devout Jains follow a vegan diet without root vegetables—so as not to kill the insects and bacteria living on the roots—and some eat before sunset, to avoid harming any insects that might be attracted to artificial light after dark.

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Categories: Jain

Paryushan Parva: Jains ask forgiveness during principle festival

Building with white pillars, gray-and-white tiles on floor of outdoor area

The Parasnath Jain temple in Calcutta, in India. During Paryushan, many Jains spend more time in temples. Photo by Jyotirmai, courtesy of Flickr

SATURDAY, AUGUST 30: Forgiveness plays a central role in many world religions, but for Jains, it’s the focus of the most important festival of the year: Paryushan Parva.

Observed by Shvetambar Jains for eight days (Aug. 22-29, this year) and by Digambar Jains for 10 (Aug. 30-Sept. 8, this year), Paryushan Parva means daily fasting, inner reflection and confession. In India, monks and nuns take up residence in Jain centers during this period, providing guidance to the laity; the custom is now practiced in the United States, too. (Learn more from Jain World and Digambar Jain Online.)

Each evening of Paryushan, the laity gather for prayer, meditation and readings from holy texts. The end of Paryushan brings the grand day when forgiveness is requested from all living beings, and Jains forgive one another in full. (Wikipedia has details.) It’s believed that all negative karmic matter attached to the soul is overpowered when total forgiveness is asked, resulting in renewal and self-purification.

Did you know? Many Jains fast during Paryushan Parva. Some drink only between sunrise and sunset; others consume only water. At the end of the festival period, any who have fasted are fed by friends and loved ones.

Though known by several different names, Paryushan Parva unites Jains through 10 key virtues: kshama (forgiveness); mardav (humility); arjav (straightforwardness); sauch (contentedness); satya (truth); samyam (control over senses); tappa (austerity); tyaga (renunciation); akinchan (lack of attachment); brahmacharya (celibacy). Together, the 10 virtues represent the ideal characteristics of the soul; by achieving the supreme virtues, the soul has a chance at salvation. Only through these virtues may people realize the sublime trio: “the True, the Good and the Beautiful.” Evil is eradicated, and eternal bliss is realized.

IN THE NEWS:
JAIN STOCK INDEX REQUESTED FOR ADHERENTS

There is public discussion of creating an index of stocks of companies complying with Jain religious structures, reported Business-Standard, and officials are seriously considering the requests. Similar to the Islamic Shariah index, which avoids liquor companies, a Jain index would, for example, avoid companies that deal in food products that are not strictly vegetarian. With increasing numbers of Jain investors, officials say religious scholars would first need to provide an assessment of which stocks to include in the index.

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Categories: Faiths of IndiaJain