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Paryushan – What Is The Story Behind This Jain Festival?

Paryushan is the most important festival for Jains. The word ‘Paryushan’ means to come together. For the Svetambar Jains, Paryushan lasts eight days, while for the Digambar Jains, it lasts ten days. Lord Mahavir initiated Paryushan on Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami which is the 5th day of the lunar cycle. The festival takes place right in between the rainy season when Jain monks and nuns stop traveling. They stay with the people of the community and give them guidance.

This eight-day celebration urges Jains all across the world to commemorate Jainism’s origins and principles. Celebrating Paryushan also has a societal purpose. During the event, family and friends join forces for a good cause. Though the Paryushan ritual encourages adherents to adhere to Jainism’s core beliefs, it focuses on five essential principles. On fast days, Jains only eat before nightfall and drink only boiling or clean water. Green leafy veggies are not recommended. They read Jain texts and religious literature. They practice meditation and prayer. They also sing devotional songs and listen to the talks of the Jain monks.

The fundamental aim of this festival is to repent and ask forgiveness for any type of sin committed. As they fast, they forget about their physical necessities and concentrate on developing their minds and souls. They atone for their misdeeds and make promises to do no evil in the future. Fasting cleanses the mind and body, and this festival calls for reflection and introspection. Jains believe that the three jewels of Jainism, which are right knowledge, right faith, and right behavior, are crucial aspects of their religion. They strive to be non-violent, truthful, non-stealing, celibate, and relinquish all worldly attachments in order to reach these goals.

Paryushan Mahaparva has a history that spans back over 2500 years. According to the Holy Scriptures, Lord Mahavira began practicing Paryushan on Shukla Panchami in the Bhadra month. The origin of Paryushan can be traced back to traveling monks stopping in one location during the rainy season.

The roots of the Paryushan celebration may be traced back to centuries ago in India when people lived in small, scattered villages. People took a respite from agricultural activity after the monsoon rains and harvests. Roads would become more difficult to navigate, and it would be impossible to travel without killing insects. As a result, the inhabitants and Sadhus/Sadhvis chose to stay in their communities and avoided travel. The monks would be in town for a longer period of time, so the householders would refresh their faith by listening to the Dharma statement by the sadhus and practicing meditation and vratas.

Daily meditation and prayers in the presence of a holy saint allow individuals to search deep into their souls and listen to Tirthankara’s teachings for spiritual direction. The celebration not only provides spiritual cleanliness, but it also cleanses the physical body. Fasting and subsisting on boiling water eliminates toxins from bodily cells, revitalizing and regenerating the body.

The celebration promotes peace, harmony, and joy by celebrating forgiveness. People ask for forgiveness from people who have wronged them and likewise forgive those who have wronged them. Paryushan Mahaparva allows the soul to forgive and forget, ridding it of the agony of hate. According to the Jain worldview, negativity of any kind has no place, and bad habits are to be broken throughout this period.

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