Paryushan – A Festival of Forgiveness (Jainism India)

Paryushan is one of the most important festivals for Jains. Normally Shwetambar Jains refer it as Paryushan, while Digambar Jains refer it as Daslakshana. It lasts 8 days for shwetambars and 10 days for digambaras. It is a festival where the entire community strives towards self-purification through fasting and sacrifice. At the heart of the philosophy behind Paryushan are ten universal virtues that is believed to help us purify and rectify our minds.

The ten universal virtues are:

  • Forbearance, exercising self-control
  • Gentleness, being kind to the nature
  • Uprightness, being honest with oneself
  • Purity, having clean thoughts and actions
  • Truth, being truthful
  • Restraint, exercising control over desires
  • Austerity, consuming only according to necessity
  • Renunciation, learning to sacrifice
  • Lack of possession, donating excesses to needy
  • Chastity, sexual restraint.

Paryushan means, literally, “abiding” or “coming together”. It is more of following strict Jainism for 8 days. Most people observe fast during these days. They survive on boiled water, which is consumed only between sunrise and sunset for 8 days. Those who are not on fast try not to eat anything else than cereal and pulses (no vegetables, no fruits), as cereals and pulses are considered to have least number of organism whom you can harm. These 8 days are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

We also perform Pratikraman on these days.Though few people do it on a daily basis. Pratikraman means turning back. It is a form of meditation where one reflects on his spiritual journey and renews his faith.

For both Shwetambars and Digambars, it takes the form of periodic meditation. Jains are considered to perform atleats one annual Pratikraman on the last day of Paryushan. This day is called Samvatsari.

On this day we request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. Forgiveness is asked by telling “Micchami Dukkadam” or “Uttam Kshama” to each other.

It means “If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness“. This is my favorite part.

This post is a part of series in Discovering the Cultural Significance of various rituals and festivals in India.

16 thoughts on “Paryushan – A Festival of Forgiveness (Jainism India)

    • Yes, I used to keep an interest in Indian culture and religions since childhood and almost lived in a very secular habitat, where everything was before my eyes. But not until last year Oct, I felt the strong sense of understanding the depths of various religion.
      Ancient India struck me particular and part of the same study included Jainism. I did not find any simple explanations on it, so I went ahead and posted myself. It took me 6 months to get to this simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow Bhanu.. It’s very informative. Being a Jain, I can relate to this well. Paryushan is a great festival where we all come together and do Pooja bhakti and pratikraman.
    The samvatsari pratikraman is very good as it gives us a spiritual feeling and we feel happy as we ask for forgiveness to every being for any mistake knowingly or unknowingly. You have done a great work bro..

    Micchami Dukkadam.

    Have a good time.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very long time back, when I had just started working I had received an email from a friend with this message “If I have caused you offence…” I wasn’t aware of this ritual then and it got me quite confused. Only later I came to know of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great to know this ritual of seeking forgiveness. I wish to adapt this in my life too. May be on New year eve or my Birthday. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure you may embed this quality into your nature and you may follow it on your day of choice. If it helps to make you feel serene and happy. Glad to share and if it inspires you, I am happy 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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