Paryushan Parv is the most important festival of the Jains. It is the time for self-reflection and deep introspection. The aim of the festival is to remind everyone that the ultimate goal of life is nirvana.
The fundamental essence of this festival is to apologize and seek forgiveness for any type of mistake committed. During the fast, the disciples prioritize their spiritual and mental growth above their bodily needs. They apologize for their mistakes and promise never to make the same mistake again.
The Shwetambar Jains celebrate Paryushan Parv for eight days whereas the Digambar Jains celebrate it for ten days. For self-purification and spiritual progress, the Jain community celebrates Paryushan Parva. They prepare for 8 to 10 days of fasting and prayer. They repent for their misdeeds and make promises to do no evil in the future. Fasting helps to cleanse the mind and the body. It also allows for reflection and introspection. Fasting during Paryushan is an opportunity to purge negative karma. It aids in the development of discipline, self-control, and patience. Each day of the Parysuhan festival focuses on purifying oneself of impurities such as wrath, pride, deception, and greed, as well as developing positive attributes.
Fasting is the most important practice observed by both Jain sects during Paryushan Parv; nevertheless, the period of fasting can differ from a day to a month, according to their individual preference. Some observe a three-day fast called Aththam and some observe the more difficult eight-day fast called Aththai. Digambara devotees are permitted to consume food and drink hot water only once throughout the day. Swetambara Jains, on the other hand, do not eat and subsist solely on boiling water, which they drink exclusively between sunrise and dusk.
It is traditional for religious leaders to stay at one of the Jain centers during Paryushan in order to be available to the public. Even if no religious leaders are present, the people gather every evening during Paryushan to shift their emphasis to the soul for these days. The most essential aspect of Paryushan is daily meditation and prayer, which gives a chance to search inside and toward the Tirthankaras’ teachings for guidance. Beginning on the fourth day of Paryushan, Murtipujak Shvetambaras read from the Kalpa Sutra, a text that chronicles Mahavira’s biography.
During this time, Jains frequently take time off from work and eat a considerably simpler diet. Those who have fasted for eight or ten days break their fast at the end of Paryushan Parv with a special feast. They do not touch food themselves but are fed by friends and family in celebration of their achievements.
The final day of Paryushan Parv is Samvastsari Pratikraman, or the Annual Confession, for Shvetambaras. The act of admitting any violation of the five big vows is a year-round ritual for a dedicated Jain. However, on this day, it becomes the focal point of the whole neighborhood. The process of seeking forgiveness is expanded to encompass family and friends, and then all living beings. Confession culminates in accepting forgiveness from all living creatures as well as providing forgiveness to all beings.
On their respective last days, both Digambaras and Swetambaras perform a rite known as Kshamapana, or forgiveness, in which they pray for forgiveness for the previous year’s faults or wrongdoing. Devotees greet one another with the words “Micchami Dukkadam” or “Uttam Kshama,” which are meant to request forgiveness if they have consciously or inadvertently injured someone’s feelings.