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Jains start fasts, prayers as Paryushana begins

    Nagpur (Maharashtra), August 14, 2012: For the extremely religious Jain community, the next eight days are significant for fasting, praying and asking for forgiveness. Paryushana, which means self cleansing by removing all negativity like raag, dwesh, moh and maya, begins on the Bhadrapada Shuklapaksh Chaturthi. It is sacred as it marks the beginning of the eight days when the dashalakshana vrata is undertaken by devout Jains.

    The two Jain sects, Shwetambar and Digambar, follow this period on different days. As the calendar this year has an adhik maas, there is a gap of nearly a month between the Paryushana of the two sects.

    As these eight to ten days fall during Chaturmaas most saints settle in one place. This gives the community an opportunity to listen to their sermons. Describing it as a time for performing dharma, city businessman Nikhil Kusumgar says temple visits and attending sermons is an essential part of the prescribed rituals. “We follow the dincharya suggested by Lord Mahavir. This includes fasting and satsang.”

    Describing the period as one dedicated to rituals and religious practices, homemaker Mamta Bordia says it involves strict observance of Jain scriptures. “All eight days are devoted to temple visits, reciting of our religious book Kalpa sutra, and adhering to diet regime.”

    The women in the house devise different menus to suite the requirements of this period. Homemaker Manju Dhariwal says that as only dry items like pulses and lentils are consumed, a variety of foods are prepared using these. “Following the dharma of ahimsa, which is the cornerstone of our religion, we avoid eating green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits since the number of micro organisms in environment is maximum during this period.”

    The period is one for internal cleansing, and asking for forgiveness. The last day is called Samvatsari, which means one year. On this day, forgiveness is asked by saying ‘Micchammi Dukadam’ which means ‘forgive me for all my mistakes’.

    “Lord Mahavir taught ahimsa and was against the excessive use of anything that nature provides. But round the year we keep committing excesses and cause wastage through consumption. So, once a year, we pause to ask for forgiveness from all beings of this universe. The lord also said that no food should be consumed till forgiveness is obtained. So, Jains fast during this period and ask for forgiveness on the last day,” says Chaitanya Kochar, director Prachiya Vidyapeeth. – Article Courtesy: Times of India

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