Happy Paryushan, a Jain Festival

Dr. Mike Ghouse   September 6, 2010   Comments Off on Happy Paryushan, a Jain Festival


Michami Dukadam friends,

I grew up with Jaichand Sajjanraj Jain who has built a magnificent Jain temple in Yelahanka near Bangalore and is my neighbor. His father Sugalchand and my father were great friends and I cannot forget the best Jamoons of my life were at his house.

Michami Dukadam is one of the most beautiful gifts presented by the Jain tradition to the world.

Indeed, this phrase is one of the dearest expressions of me. Two years ago, at the funeral prayers for Najma in the Richardson Mosque, I asked people to repeat “michami dukadam” and nearly 2100 people from all faiths and traditions present repeated the phrases, meaning every one wanted to acknowledge the past, but release each other from any bondage and free oneself to continue with life.

In lay man’s terms, It is pushing the refresh button in our lives, cleaning our slate for the last year and starting all over again with renewed relationship. it is tying the loose ends and achieving spiritual freedom; Mukti, moksha, nirvana, nijaat, salvation or plain freedom.

Two years ago, I wrote in Najma’s obituary, “Three days prior to her death, I shared the good news with her, “Najma, spiritually you are a free person now, you will be pleased to know that all those items that bothered you and gave you tension are done with, the loose ends are tied, and if you were to get up and walk and be with any one, hear about anything or see anything you will be completely free from tensions”.

The smile that appeared on her face was simply life giving, it meant everything to me, it was a relief to me to know that as a spouse I have done my part in completing her life successfully and I thank God for that. I asked her to forgive my shortcomings and without missing a beat, she asked me to do the same. It was one of the best emotional releases she and I have had in our lives. It was a perfect Michami Dukadam. (cleaning each others slate).

Michami Dukadam friends,More about Paryushan below

I invite all of you to Join me at the Unity Day, on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 5: 30 PM, details are at; http://www.unitydayusa.com/

Mike Ghouse

The Paryushan Parva (festival) is the most important and pinnacle festival among the Jain festivals. Paryushan is a festival of self-discipline through fasting, equanimity and other ascetic practices. Men, women and children as well as monks and nuns undertake fasts with varying strictness. Svetämbars celebrate eight days of Paryushan with daily prayers, reading of Kalpasutra scriptures, life of Lord Mahavira, penance, meditation and self repentance for violating knowingly and unknowingly the basic rules of conduct of a householder.During Paryushana, there are regular sermons and ceremonies in the temples On the last day, jain members greet each other and ask forgiveness (Kshama-yachna) for any pain that might have been caused knowingly or unknowingly by any of their actions during the past year.

Digambar Jains celebrate Paryushan for 10 days, Dash Lakshan. During the Parva they read and discuss 10 virtues, which are called the cardinal virtues. These cardinal virtues are the inherent qualities of a human soul. The 10 cardinal virtues are :

1. FORGIVENESS (KSHAMA) – Total lack of anger.
2. HUMILITY (MARDAVA) – Lack of pride,ego.
4. CONTENTMENT (SAUCH)- Lack of greed.
5. TRUTHFULNESS (SATYA) – Lack of falsehood.
6. SELF-CONTROL (SAYAMA) – Control over physical violence.
7. AUSTERITY (TAPPA)- Austerity is repentance of one’s sins.
8. RENUNCIATION (TYAGA)- Giving up possessions both internal and external.
9. DETACHMENT (APARIGRAHA)- Lack of attachment.
10. CELIBACY (BRAHMACHARYA). Control of sensory pleasures

The festival ordains the Jains to observe the above mentioned ten universal supreme virtues in daily practical life. Besides assuring a blissful existence in this world and the other world for every living being, it aims at the attainment of salvation – the supreme ideal for mundane soul. The non-Jains also express high reverence for this Jain festival. All members of Jain community- high and low, young and old, and males and females, participate with full vigor and zeal in the various religious rituals and cultural programs. They listen to the holy sermons of the saints and learned Jain scholars arranged during the ten-day festival. In these celebrations lie dormant the seeds of the well being, peace and happiness of the common man. These celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity and preach the lofty Jain motto ‘Live and Let live.

Requesting Forgiveness

At the conclusion of the festival, members request each other and all living beings for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year.. There are several great aphorisms (Sutras) to ask for forgiveness with the unity of the body, speech and mind, and one of them is as follows:

Khämemi Savve Jivä, Savve Jivä Khamantu Mi
Mitti Me Savva bhuesu, Veram majjham na Kenai.


I forgive all the living beings of the universe, and may all the living-beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.

The process of shedding our karmäs really begins by asking for forgiveness with true feelings, and to take some vows not to repeat mistakes. The quality of the forgiveness requires humility (vinay – absence of ego) and suppression of anger. Therefore, the real purpose of the Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul, to look at our own faults, to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and take vows to minimize our faults. We try to forget about the needs of our body (like food) and our business so that we can concentrate on our-self.

Paryushan Parva gives expression to the perfectly purified trait of the soul, through which one gets rid of worldly discords and allurements and one gets fully absorbed in the eternal truth on experiencing and realizing the true nature of soul. In other words we can say that the natural realization of the trio ‘the True, the Good and the Beautiful’ This festival puts an end to all evils in man; gives him realization of the eternal bliss, and spiritualism becomes alive by the celebration of this festival.

To sum up, Paryushan Parva is a grandest of the Jain festival of self-introspection,
self-enlightenment and self-achievement, which ultimately leads to the one and
only one final goal, i.e., liberation or salvation.

Complied by Dr. Pradeep Shah, 2006, Dallas, Texas