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Paryushana (Jain Prakrit: पज्जोसण Pajjosavana) is one of the two most important festivals for the Jains, the other being Diwali. Normally Śvētāmbaras refer it as Paryushana, while Digambaras refer it as Das Lakshana. Paryushana means "abiding, coming together". It is believed that the devas do an eight-part puja for the tirthankaras, which takes eight days. Jains celebrate this period as Paryushana.
The duration of Paryusana is for eight or ten days and comes at the time when the wandering monks take up temporary residence for the monsoon period or "cāturmāsa" "four-month". For this minimum duration, Paryushana must be initiated by panchami (the fifth day) of the shukla paksha phase of Bhadra. The last day is called Samvatsari, short for Samvatsari Pratikramana. The date for the Paryushana festival is Bhadra shukla chaturthi. Because of computational and other differences, there can be some minor differences among various subsects. Recently there has been an attempt to standardize the date. Because at this time the monks have settled in the town for a longer duration, it is time for the householders to have an annual renewal of the faith by listening to the statement of the Dharma and by meditation and vratas (self-control). Digambaras starting a 10-day period from Bhadra shukla panchami, during which the dashalakshana vrata is undertaken. Śvētāmbara celebrate an eight-day festival that ends with Bhadrapada shukla chaturthi.
During the 8-day festival, the Śvētāmbara Murtipujaki recite the Kalpa Sūtra, which includes a recitation of the section on birth of Mahavira on the fifth day. Some Śvētāmbara Sthanakvasis recite the Antagada Sutra, which details the life of great men and women who attained moksha during the eras of Neminatha and Mahavira. The Digambara recite the Tattvartha Sutra of Umaswati. On dashami, a sugandha-dashami vrata is made. Digambaras celebrate Ananta chaturdashi, special worship is done on this day. Many towns have a procession leading to the main temple.
Most of the Jains observe fast and Ekasan (meal/boiled water once in a day) and soak themselves in the rituals associated with the event and try to ready themselves for a virtuous life. The span of the fast could be anything between a day and 30 days or even more. In the Digambar sect, Shravakas do not take food and/or water (boiled) more than once in a day when observing fasts, while those of the Swetambar sect observing a fast survive on boiled water, which is consumed only between sunrise and sunset.
Jainism discourages fasting in diabetics, pregnant women, other patients taking medications. Please consult your doctor before any fasting, as fasting can interfere with health in aforementioned cases.
On all the eight or ten days, Jains begin their day with pratikramana, or Jain meditation, at 5.45 in the morning, followed by prayers for promoting universal peace and brotherhood. Pratikramana means turning back; also called samayika, the practitioner reflects on their spiritual journey and renews their faith. For both Śvētāmbaras and Digambaras it takes the form of periodic meditation. The period can be twice daily (morning and evening), once every lunar phase, every four months or every year. The annual Pratikramana in some form is the minimum for the Śrāvaka and Śrāvikās.
The annual pratikramana is called Samvatsari Pratikramana. Since it coincides with the end of Paryushana, the terms "Samvatsari" and "Paryushana" are sometimes used interchangeably.
Pratikramana includes six avasyakas or essentials:
The detailed recommended procedure can be found in the handbooks. Detailed Pratikramana takes about three hours; however, the essentials can be done in a much shorter time if needed.
At the conclusion of the festival, the Sravakas request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. This occurs on the Paryusha day for the Swetambara and on Pratipada (first) of Ashwin Krashna for the Digambara. 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".
These are the ten Lakshan of Dharma: Uttam Kshama (forbearance), Uttam Mardava (gentleness), Uttam Aarjava (uprightness), Uttam Satya (truth), Uttam Shauch (purity), Uttam Sanyam (restraint), Uttam Tap (austerity), Uttam Tyaga (renunciation), Uttam Aakinchanya (lack of possession) and Uttam Brahmcharya (chastity), as described by Umaswati in Tattvartha Sutra.
In the full form, it is a 10 day vrata that comes every year. It may be undertaken during Shukla Panchami to Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada, Magh or Chaitra months. However it is common to do it during Bhadrapada.