Know all about Paryushan - the spiritual festival of Jains and the practices being followed like fasting, praying to god, seeking forgiveness and finding peace of mind during these holy days.
Paryushan is the holy festival of Jains which is observed for 8 days in Shwetambar's and 10 days in Digambar’s. The Paryushan is observed during every Chaturmas, commencing on the twelfth day of the fortnight of the waning moon, in Bhadrapad and ending on the fourth day of the fortnight of the waxing moon in the Bhadrapad. Let’s see how this festival of spiritual upliftment and purification is celebrated and what religious practices are followed by the community.
8 Days of Salvation
Day one of the festival starts with preparing the mind and body for the Vitrag (free from aversion). Days two and three are the days of purification, self-control, penance and donation. The fourth day is the day to worship Goddess Laxmi, as she is believed to bring wealth and prosperity. The fifth day of Paryushan is one of the most important days of the festival, where Lord Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankar’s birth is celebrated. On this day, people read the sacred text of Jainism – ‘Kalpa Sutra.’ The days following the Mahavir Janam (Birth of Lord Mahavir) are the days of tolerance and perseverance. And finally the day of ‘Samvatsari’ (gateway to salvation), the eighth day of the religious occasion is celebrated by the community.
The eighth day of paryushan holds the entire essence of the festival where people seek each other's forgiveness. After the Pratikraman(a religious practice), Jains seek forgiveness from all the creatures of the world whom they may have harmed knowingly or unknowingly by uttering the phrase— "Micchami Dukkadam" or “Khamau Sa” which means to seek forgiveness for any form of harm caused knowingly or unknowingly.
Along with the prayers and worship, people also observe fasts during these holy days. This is done to seek control of the cravings and follow a simple and healthy diet. Different sets of fasts are observed by people according to their will and capacity.
Chauvihar Upvas: The toughest of all where any type of food and water is restricted, starting from the previous sunset to the next day's sunrise.
Tivihar Upvas: To give up only food for the whole day, starting from the previous sunset to the 3rd-day sunrise (approximately for 36 hours)
Aayambil: To have just one meal in the entire day (typically, lunch) and boiled water.
Ekasana: Having only one meal per day.
Beyasana: Having two meals a day
Chauvihar: No food or water after sunset until at least Navkarsi (breakfast) the next day.
Tivihar: No food after sunset until at least Navkarsi the next day. Water is permitted until midnight.
Aathai: 8 days of fasting without food and only drinking boiled water.
Navai: No food for 9 days, only boiled water. (mostly done by Digamber Jains as their Paryushan lasts for 10 days)
Solbhathu: No food for 16 days, only boiled water.
Maaskshaman: To give up food and water or only food continuously for a whole month.
Varshitap: Fasting for 36 hours, on alternate days for 13 lunar months and 13 days continuously. In Varshitap a person eats on alternate days between sunrise and sunset only. A person cannot eat on any two consecutive days for the period of fasting but can fast on two consecutive days.
People who can’t observe any of these fasts try to have the meal before sunset, drink boiled water, and avoid onion, garlic, and food items grown underground for at least 8 or 10 days.
This is one of the most sought-after festivals in Jainism. It is so said that in the 16th century, Emperor Akbar being influenced by Jain Acharya Hirvijay Suri had issued an Amari Ghosna, a farmaan (order) to ban the slaughter of animals for a month during the Paryushan Parva & Mahavir Jayanti.