Paryushan is the most important jain festival. What is so unique about this festival and what fascinates me to write this article? Normally, all the festivals are for celebrating, some one’s birthday, there’s a mythological story attached to it (like diwali, return of rama & enlightenment of mahavira, independence day, children’s day, holi – the story of prahlad, etc and the list goes on).
This festival is all about self-discipline, sacrifice, self-control , austerities, purification of soul and most importantly – getting in touch with your inner-self and forgiveness. It is all about spiritual journey and finding a new self. Throughout the paryushan period people pray and fast. All the prayers are about detachments, discipline and forgiveness.
“FORGIVENESS”: We use this word very often. I, guess, this would be the only religion where prayers of forgiveness include earth, plants, animals, insects, seeds, trees, humans, god, dew, anthills, spider webs, water. All living beings or souls with one sense, two senses, three senses, four senses or five senses. It could be by walking, while sleeping, while breathing, while talking, while praying. Even giving a slightest pain to any of these is considered as a sin in Jainism. And during Paryushan, these seek forgiveness from each of the above, for if they have inflicted any pain, attacked them, bothered them or collided them knowingly or unknowingly. With the 8 or 10 days austerities (deravasi 8 days and sthanakwasi 10 days), people bring out the purity in themselves. Feeling light and connected to one self.
Last day of the festival (Samvatsari) is the day when they ask for forgiveness from each of the above and from their friends, family, acquaintances, everyone they know, for if they have hurted them knowingly or unknowingly.
This is asked by saying “Michhami Dukkadam”. These words are in Prakrit meaning “may all evil that has been done be forgiven” OR “My bad deeds be fruitless”.
This really extends the meaning of forgiveness.
And that’s what fascinates me about this festival.