Ellora Caves – Aurangabad

Ellora Caves are located around 30km away from Aurangabad city. Frequent buses are available for Ellora from Aurangabad Central Bus Stand on Aurangabad-Dhule Highway.

Ellora Caves is closed on Tuesday. So plan accordingly.

There are in all 34 Caves in Ellora.

Cave no. 16 – is the Kailasha Temple carved out of a mountain rock and has many intricate detailing depicting many stories along the walls. There is a giant elephant on the grand entrance. Also a stamb. If you interested in ancient craftsmanship and skills, you may take ample time in viewing this temple. You can take a short route up the hill that gives you a top view of the temple.

Near by Ellora you would find one of the 12 Jyotirling – Grishneswar Temple. You can plan to visit this temple along with Ellora.

Fasting ritual in Jainism (India)

Jainism is a very scientific culture. Jain Fasts are very austere and require a lot of skill, strength and devotion. Fasting is just one of many forms of penance (tapasya) and its purpose is usually to strengthen and purify the soul by shedding or weakening the karma attached to it and reminds the practitioner of Mahavira’s emphasis on renunciation and asceticism, because Mahavira spent a great deal of time fasting.

There are many types of fasts which people might undertake daily, on holy days( like Paryushan), or whenever they feel like doing it. There are no special fast for girls or boys or for job or anything else. Some people take vows to fast X times per week, or Y days every year, and stick to that schedule.

An important thing to keep in mind is that no one is ever required to fast. To fast is a personal choice, and most Jains accept that each individual’s circumstances and karmas affect the extent to which he or she can fast. Those who can’t fast are sometimes encouraged to limit the amount or variety of the food they consume on certain holy days, but even this is optional.

Forcing oneself to fast for the sake of social appearances or out of obligation is not spiritually useful for Jains.

Different types of Fast are:

  • Upvas: To give up only food for the whole day.(starting from previous sunset to 2nd day sunrise – approx 36 hrs)
  • Chauvihar Upvas: Like Upvas, to give up food as well as water.
  • Digambar Upvas: One may drink water only once a day, before sunset.
  • Shwetambar Upvas: One may drink boiled and cooled water after Porsi, provided this is done before sunset.
  • Tihivar Upvas: One may drink boiled water between sunrise and sunset.
  • Ekasana: To eat one meal a day at one sitting and drink boiled water as desired between sunrise and sunset.
  • Beasana: To eat two meals a day in two sittings and drink boiled water anytime between sunrise and sunset.

And many more like Bela(2 days), Tela(3 days), Athai(8 days), Navai (9 days), Masakshaman (a month), etc.


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

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.