The Paryushana is the most important festival
among the Jain festivals and it is observed during every Chaturmas
commencing on the twelfth day of the shukla phase of Bhadrapad month and
ending on the fourth day of Krishna Phase of Bhadrapad.
This is in
August-September, and peak monsoon time. For the Swetambara sect of Jains,
Paryushana is an eight-day event, while for the Digambaras it stretches
over ten days.
Its origin is related to the staying of the monks in one place in
Chaturmas (4 months of monsoon). As during this time the monks have
settled in the town for a longer duration, it is time for the
householders to have an annual renewal of the faith by listening to the
statement of the Dharma and by meditation and vratas (self-control). And
for the monks, almost as importantly, staying in one place during the
monsoon reduces the risk of causing accidental death to numerous insects
and smaller forms of life that thrive during the rains.
Paryushana is a time of reflection on actions and meditation on
the past year. Paryushana is marked by strict observance of the ten
cardinal virtues: forgiveness, charity, simplicity, contentment,
truthfulness, self-restraint, fasting, detachment, humility and
continence. During the eight-day Paryushana festival, the Swetambaras
recite the religious text, the Kalpa Sutra (including a section on the
birth of Lord Mahavira), on the fifth day.The Digambara sect recites the
Tatvartha-sutra of Umaswati.
During this festival, Jains of all ages visit the divine temples or
Upashrayas to listen to the discourses and readings of Kalpa Sutra. In
the evenings, Jains perform a kriya called Pratikraman, a form of
meditation to reflect on spiritual journey.
Most Jains fast in some form of the other in these days. It is not
and uncommon sight to see 8 day fasters, who do not consume anything in
these eight days. Even water must be boiled and can be drunk only
between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (approx.) Every now and then one does come
across a faster who has not eaten for a whole month too!!! Penance and
fasting are the key words in these days. Many jains abstain from
onions,garlic,potatoes, root vegetables and green vegetables.
In the Digambaras, the 10-day period of Paryushana starts from
Bhadrapada Shukla panchami during which the dashalakshana vrata is
undertaken. Paryushan for Digambars ends on Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada.
In the Swetambaras an 8-day festival is celebrated that ends with
Bhadrapada Shukla panchami. The last day is called Samvatsari, short for
Samvatsari Pratikramana. Seven days are days of attainment and the
eighth day is one of fulfillment or achievement. In this manner,the
Samvatsari Mahaparva the annual festival is celebrated.
It is at this time that Jains embark on their respective annual
pratikramana - a reflection on their spiritual journey for the past
year. On this day they also observe a unique custom, where they ask
every individual they may have offended during the year for forgiveness.
Old quarrels are forgotten and friendships and relationships renewed, as
they fold their hands and ask for "Micchamidukadam" or
Michchhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut)
means bad deeds. Therefore the meaning of Michchhami Dukkadam is my bad
deeds (with you) be fruitless. So concept behind saying or writing
someone "Michchhami Dukkadam" is that if I have done any harm
to you then those bad deeds to be forgiven (be fruitless).
is the prayer we say while doing Pratikraman:"KHAMEMI SAVVE JIVE,
SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU ME
METTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU,
VERAM MAJAHAM N KENAI"
"I forgive (from the bottom of my heart without any reservation)
all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering
either in this life or previous lives), and I beg (again from the
bottom of my heart without any reservation) for the forgiveness from
all living beings (no matter how small or big to whom I may have
caused pain and suffering in this life or previous lives, knowingly or
unknowingly, mentally, verbally or physically, or if I have asked or
encouraged someone else to carry out such activities). (Let all
creatures know that) I have a friendship with everybody and I have no
revenge (animosity or enmity) toward anybody."
- Samayika: to
stay in equanimity by withdrawing to the self.
- Prayers to
the Five Supremes, 24 Jinas and the 4 mangalas, including the
Dharma as presented by the ancient Masters.
- Prayer to
the Master(Guru) or the Deity.
on vratas and past transgressions.
detachment from the body by controlling it.
making resolutions for the next period (next year for Samvatsari
This is a vrata
that celebrates components of the dharma: Noble kshama (forbearance),
mardava (gentleness), arjava (uprightness), shaucha (purity), satya
(truth), sanyam (restraint), tapa (austerity), tyaga (renunciation),
akinchanya (lack of possession) and brahmcharya (chastity), as
described by Umaswati.
In the full
form, it is a 10 day vrata that spans 10 years. It may be undertaken
during Shukla Panchami to Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada, Magh or Chaitra.
However it it common to do it during Bhadrapada, in which case it
starts with Paryushana.