Happy Paryushan – a Jain Festival.

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Mike Ghouse    

Paryushan – a Jain festival of forgiveness

 For the Jains, followers of Jainism, a world religion, this is the month of reflection. Some observe fasting for ten days, and some for eight days. It is a time to review the past twelve months and acknowledge the good, bad, and the ugly aspects of life, and begin it again with a clean the slate.

Note to my Jewish friends; the swastika symbol symbolizes four directions and four seasons of life, life is constant movement. This symbol has been in use for over 2500 years by Jains, whereas Hitler stole it and used it to denote his evil empire.

 At the end of the nine days, they celebrate on the 10th day, and is called Dus Laxan; every Jain greets the other with “Jai Jinendra” followed by a powerful phrase “Michami Dukadam,” – let you and I clean our slates and start the new year again. – Happy Paryushan!

 Pariyushan is an annual festival that Jains celebrate all around the Globe. It is either seven or nine days of celebration, depending on the sect; Svetambara or Digambar, they observe fasting for seven days or nine days and conclude it on Dus Laxan, ten blessings on the tenth day. Throughout the time they observe complete fasting and abstain from ill-will, ill-thoughts, and ill-actions, just as Muslims do for a month in Ramadan and Hindus during Navaratri. It is a beautiful way of refreshing our souls on an annual basis. 

The Jains have been practicing this tradition for thousands of years, and I join them in the Jain tradition of humility and forgiveness I say Michami Dukadam. I am pleased to share the perfect message from Dr. Vastupal Parikh. 

“I forgive (without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering either in this or previous lives), and I beg for the forgiveness from all living beings (no matter how small or big) to whom I may have, knowingly or unknowingly, caused pain and suffering (in thoughts, speech or action, in this or previous lives, or if I have asked, or encouraged someone else, to carry out such activities). (Let all creatures know that) I have friendship with everybody and have no revenge (animosity or enmity) toward anybody.”

Michami Dukadam: Indeed, that phrase resonates with me. I had talked about the meaning of Michami Dukadam in several congregations. There is beauty and joy in forgiving and be forgiving. It brings Moksha,  Mukti, Nirvana, Nijaat, salvation, and true freedom to every soul. Indeed, the idea of forgiveness is central to every religion; that was Jesus’s focus, the dearest person to God is one who forgives, says Mohammad the prophet, and Sri Krishna reiterates that throughout in Bhagavad Gita. 

If all the psychologists in the world were asked, what will bring the most freedom to mankind, they might be tempted to say “Michami Dukadam”.

Jainism is a full-fledged religion like Hinduism and Buddhism, and none is an offshoot of the other as it is often misunderstood. Jainism is a contemporary of Buddhism. The faiths are life centered where one’s deeds (Karma) determine his or her spiritual, physical, and mental well being. Although Mahavir is referred to as God in common parlance, in the system, he is the 24th Tirthankara (the enlightened one – an equivalent of a messenger or a prophet in the Abrahamic traditions) who wrapped up the entire philosophy of the 23 earlier Tirthankaras. In Dallas, oops, it is in Fort Worth, we had an exhibition of the artifacts from that period at Kimball Art Museum several years ago, it was a fascinating experience.

Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence approach emanates from Jainism and the idea of the validity of multiple paths of the foundation for pluralism has its origin in the concept of Anekant Vaad from Jainism. We have a Jain Temple in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, and if you want to enjoy the best vegetarian food, go to the temple on Sunday Mornings! I will have to figure out one in Washington D.C.,

“Festivals of the World” is an educational series by Mike Ghouse since 1993. When we live in the same communities as neighbors, we might as well learn about each other. The best way to build cohesive societies is for its members to participate in festivities and commemorations of each other, or at least understand each other’s’ joys and sorrows. Please note the simplicity in writing is designed for people of different faiths to learn and to know so that we can function cohesively. 

Mike Ghouse is committed to opening people’s hearts, minds, and souls towards each other, so all of us can live without fear of each other. More about mike at www.TheGhouseDiary.com

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