Jain rituals and festivals emphasize the spiritual aspects of Jainism.
- During Jain festivals, many events of Lord Mahävir’s life are acted out in symbolic form to bring out the message of Lord Mahävir in a simpler way.
- Rituals and festivals involve the practice of Jainism as well as revitalization and strengthening of our beliefs in Jainism.
- The Jain festivals are known as Parvas.
- The word “Parva” means auspicious day. Paryushan Mahä Parva: Paryushan Parva consists of eight days per Shvetämbar tradition and ten days per Digambar tradition.
- It starts on twelfth or thirteenth day of the dark half of the month Shravan. The month of Shravan is in the monsoon season. Jain monks and nuns do not stay at one place more than a few days during non-rainy season.
- Monsoon showers and torrential rains, however make it impossible for the monks to travel across the country.
- This coupled with the principle of Ahinsä or non-violence, make it difficult for them not to trample on and squash insects and other forms of life that emerge in the monsoon. According to our scriptures, the last of Paryushan Parva known as Samvatsari day is celebrated on 50 th day of the monsoon season.
- Monks and nuns must settled during this time period and remain at that place for the remaining Monsoon season of next 70 days. Meaning of Paryushan The word “Paryushan” has several different meanings:
• Pari + Ushan = all kinds + to burn = to burn (shed) our all types of Karmas.
To shed our Karmas, we do twelve different types of austerities including fasting.
• Another meaning of “Ushan” is to stay closer.
To stay closer to our own soul from all directions and to stay absorbed in our own-self (soul), we do Swädhyäy (self-study), meditation, austerities, etc.
• Pari + Upashamanä = Upashamanä
Means to suppress, to suppress our passions (Kashäyas – anger, ego, deceit and greed) from all directions. Therefore, the real purpose of the Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul, to look at our own faults, to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and take vows to minimize our sins. We should try to forget about the needs of our body (like food) and our business so that we can concentrate on our soul during Paryushan.
- Recitation of Kalpa Sutra Per Shvetämbar tradition, there are regular ceremonies in the temple and discourses of Kalpa Sutra (one of the sacred books) in the Upäshray during this time. Kalpa Sutra, which contains a detailed account of Mahävir’s life in addition to the lives of other Tirthankars.
- It is read to the Jain congregation by Guru maharaj. On the third day of the Paryushan Parva, the Kalpa Sutra receives a very special reverence and may be carried in the procession. On the fifth day at a special ceremony, the replicas of auspicious dreams of Mahävir’s mother, queen Trishalä, are exhibited to the people, which are then honored by them.
- Listening to the Kalpa Sutra, among others are the most important activities that should be performed by Jain during Paryushan. Scripture define that Shrävaks and Shrävikäs should perform following five essential activities during Paryushan.
- Amäri Pravartan Spread the message of non-violence Attham Tap Fast for three consecutive days Chaitya Paripati Go for a visit and prayers to different Derasars in town in group Swami Vätsalya Honor and respect fellow Jains Kshamäpanä Extend and ask for forgiveness from every one by performing Pratikraman
- Samvatsari or Day of Forgiveness The final day of Paryushan, called Samvatsari, is the most important of all.
This is the day when Jains perform Samvatsari Pratikraman and ask for forgiveness to family, friends and foes alike for any wrongful acts they might have committed towards them during the year.
- Therefore this annual opportunity of repentance and forgiveness is very important. Many perform different penances and austerities during the days of Paryushan day these individuals eight are specially honored.
- To ask for forgiveness is probably the most difficult thing to do. Therefore, our great Ächäryas have said: “Kshamä Virasya Bhushanam, Kshamäväni Michchhämi Dukkadam” To ask for forgiveness is a great quality of the brave ones and if I have committed any mistake, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask for your forgiveness.
- There are several great aphorisms (Sutras) to ask for forgiveness with the unity of the body, speech and mind, and one of them is as follows: Khämemi Savva Jiva, Savve Jiv Khamantu Me Mitti Me Savva Bhuesu, Veram Majjham na Kenai.
- I fogive all the living beings of the universe, May all the living-beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.
- The process of shedding our Karmas really begins by asking for forgiveness with true feelings, and by taking vows not to repeat mistakes. The request for forgiveness requires humility (Vinay – absence of ego) and elimination of hatred.