Paryushana Parva is an important festival celebrated by the Jain community for self-purification and spiritual upliftment. The word Paryushana means “abiding” or “coming together.” The festival lasts eight to ten days. The Shvetambar Jains observe the festival for eight days, whereas the Digambar Jains celebrate Paryushan Parva for ten days. On the final day, there are confessions, and people ask for forgiveness. The most inherent part of Paryushana is daily meditation and prayer. Daily meditation provides an opportunity to look within and towards the teaching of the Trithankaras for guidance.
The festival is known by two different names- Paryushana by Shvetambaras and Das Lakshana by Digambaras. From the fifth day, the Murtipujak Shvetambaras read the Kalpa Sutra, a scripture that recounts the life of Mahavira. It also recounts the lives of other Trithankaras and the rules of Paryushana. Digambaras recite Tattvartha sutra which is a compendium of Jain principles. The Parv happens during the rainy season, and it is the time when monks and nuns cease travelling. They stay with the community and offer their guidance to them.
History Of The Parv
According to the Jain scriptures, Paryushana begins almost one month and twenty days after the rainy season starts. The origins of the festival are rooted in the agricultural lifestyle of India. After rain and harvest, the roads become difficult to travel; hence Sadhus and Sadhvis would avoid travel and settle in the villages or temples. It gives them a chance to focus on purifying themselves. Paryushana is the time for self-analysis and soul-searching. The festival also reminds us that the highest achievement is the attainment of Nirvana.
How is it Celebrated?
During the Paryushana, Jains study the scriptures and religious books, reflect on the basic principles of Jainism, and concentrate on purifying themselves. They observe the vows of non-violence, truth, non-stealing, and purity of body and mind. They perform Pratikarman i.e. looking back at your actions as a part of this festival.
Significance Of The Paryushana Parva
For Jains, the primary purpose of this festival is to seek forgiveness for any wrong deeds. During their fasting period, they shift their focus away from bodily needs and work on enriching their minds and souls. They pledge to avoid wrongdoing in the future. Fasting is seen as a way to cleanse both the body and mind, and the festival offers a valuable opportunity for self-reflection and seld-purification.
Jains hold the three jewels of their faith—right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct. To attain these principles, they strive to practice non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and detachment from worldly attachments. While following these principles all year round can be challenging, during Paryushan, most Jains make a concerted effort to adhere to as many of these guidelines as possible.
Paryushana Parva ends with people greeting each other with “Micchami Dukkadam”. It is a Prakrit phrase which means “to be forgiven”. All the Jains seek forgiveness for any kind of harm they have caused intentionally or unintentionally to their family members or friends.
Here are some Michhami Dukkadam wishes that you can send to seek forgiveness from your loved ones and others:
- As we celebrate Mahaparva Paryushana, with a humble heart and folded hands, I ask for your forgiveness if I have knowingly or unknowingly, caused you any harm or hurt you in some way through my words or actions.. Michhami Dukkadam.
- It is said that one who forgives is bigger than the one who asks forgiveness. By saying Michhami Dukkadam, I request your forgiveness for my actions and words that may have hurt you. Michhami Dukkadam.
- On the auspicious occasion of Kshamavani, I sincerely ask your forgiveness, if I have hurt you or your feelings, knowingly or unknowingly during the last year… Michhami Dukkadam!
- On this pious occasion of Kshamavani, I take the opportunity to seek Kshama for my karmas which may have hurt you intentionally or unintentionally. Please accept my apologies. Michhami Dukkadam.
The Bottom Line
Paryushana Parva is the most important festival of the Jains. It is about self-analysis, self-reflection and purification of our thoughts. It is also about letting go of the unholy baggage one has.