What is PARYUSHAN and how is it observed

  • By Suyasha Mookim Chattopadhyay
  • September 22, 2023
  • 1096 views
  • Know briefly the importance of Paryushan and how it is observed.

Paryushan is followed by Jains for a period of eight days during chaumasa or the four months of rainy days wherein the Jain monks do not travel but are stationary in one place to minimise harm to all kinds of living beings.

 

Paryushan is a time for abstinence and self-reflection - abstinence from worldly comforts and reflection upon betterment of life and karma. It’s a time when its compulsory for Jains to visit the temples for either doing Puja (offering flowers and sandalwood paste to the Tirthankars along with recitation of chaityavandan or Jain mantras) or Darshan (chaityavandan is done, but offerings of flowers and sandalwood paste is not made).

 

It’s a time for the practise of strict dietary rules wherein one makes it a point to eat only home-cooked food which in turn is limited to a choice of various lentils, rice or roti and dairy products. It is understood that during Paryushan dinner must be eaten before sunset and no grains can be consumed after sunset and before sunrise the next day. For children, patients and pregnant women there is a relaxation of this rule but the choice of food is limited to eating only dairy products and nuts after sunset.

 

This period of self-reflection is aided by Jain monks and nuns who deliver Vyakhyan or speeches based on religious texts.

 

Rich in Jain philosophy, tales of the lives of Jain Tirthankars, saints and outstanding lay people, Vyakhyan is meant to lead the listeners to greater acts of good and abstain from performing wrong deeds. It is supposed to spiritually nurture the minds of the lay people.

 

On one of the days of Paryushan, after the Vyakhyan, the birth of lord Mahavira is celebrated. Men, women and children dress up in their best regalia to celebrate this event.

 

The last day of Paryushan is the day of repentance for the smallest wrong done to those amongst family, friends, relatives and even acquaintances. It’s a day when Jains ask forgiveness (Khamatkhamna) from each other for any unkind word uttered or deed done deliberately or without realising. Both are seen to be wrong doings differing only in degree. The last day is observed as a day of fasting by majority of the Jains. Many young and old people fast for various days ranging from three days to three months.

Paryushan is not a celebration in the usual sense of the word. There is no joyous enjoyment as seen in other Indic festivals. It is rather a period to ponder upon life and commit oneself to doing as little harm to others and as much good as possible in order to increase one’s good karma.

 

Paryushan ends with people greeting each other ‘Micchami Dukkadam’ which means, “may all the evil that has been done be fruitless.” Source

 

The dates of Paryushan are different for Digambar and Shwetambar Jains. The former celebrate it for ten days and latter eight days. Ganesh Chaturthi is on the ninth day. Source and Source

 

The author is an Assistant Professor in English and remains a Jain married to a Bengali follower of the Sanatana Dharma. She further has a Post Graduate Diploma in Counseling Psychology.

 

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