Every year in the months of August or September, (depending on the Jain Panchang; Calendar) the festival of Paryushan is celebrated by Jains all over the world. This year the festival s being celebrated from the 26th of August 2019 – 2nd of September 2019 Belonging to quite a devout Jain family, this 8 day festival holds immense significance for everyone at home. From visiting the beautifully decorated Dearsar (Jain Temple) or Upashray to following a strict, saatvik diet, Paryushan is one of the holiest of festivals.
Teachings of Tirthankaras form the base of all activities during Paryushan. It is required to ardently persevere the teachings of Ahimsa – (Non-violence), Kshamapana – (Forgiveness) and (Vairagya) – (Detachment)
A usual day of Paryushan comprises of the following activities –
1. Samayik – Everyone, I remember is expected to wake up early during these days and the first activity is Samayik – 48 minutes of meditation to detach from worldly bonds and to connect with ourselves.
2. Puja – After Samayik, Upashaks (devotees) visit the Derasar or Upashray to conduct Puja of Tirthankara. In pure, unused attires, everyone in the family conducts the Puja with kesar and sandalwood.
3. Pravachan – Daily sermons are organized in the morning hours. Jain saints (Maharajsaheb) address the devotees and guide them about the spiritual path.
4. Chovihar – As per a ritual, during Paryushan, everyone eats dinner before sunset and consumes nothing after that. As per Scientific research and Jainism, the air is filled with more micro-organisms in the evening as compared to the time before sunset. And what’s more this particualr ritual also ensures good digestive system!
5. Pratikraman – At the end of the day, Pratikramana is performed. It is a form of a prayer service wherein, the devotees seek for forgiveness from every organism and repents the wrong-doings of the day. It is a practice that lightens the mind and fosters peace and kindness.
6. Bhakti Bhavna – The day ends with a beautiful bhakti karyakram (devotional musical program) at the Derasar or Upashray. Everyone expresses their devotion by way of bhajans (religious songs) and then ends the evening with Aarti and Mangal Deevo.
Apart from the above, you may have often heard about Jains not consuming Potatoes, Onions, Garlic and other such root vegetables – let me try and shed some light on the reason behind this –
Jains believe in following Ahimsa to an extent where they refrain from hurting even the minutest of living beings and consider every organism; whether an ant or a human as equal. No organism, as per Jainism deserves to be the recipient of disrespect from one another.
There is yet another custom that quite of irks the curiosity of many of my Non-Jain friends and colleagues and I’ve often got this question – Why do Jain saints cover their mouths with a white cloth?
There is more to this festival and I don’t think one post will be enough to talk about all the enlightening aspects. If you take a keen interest in knowing about mythological stories and about popular Jain devotional songs and rituals – do stay tuned for Part 2 🙂