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Paryushana festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the people of the Jain community and hence is also referred to by the name of Parvadhiraj, meaning “the king of festivals”. The festival is also known by the name of Das Lakshana by the followers of the Digambar Jain sect. The festival is 8to 10 days long and is celebrated from the fourth day to the fourteenth day of the bright fortnight in the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar.
Significance of Paryushana
It is believed that the origin of this festival is related to the continued residence of the roaming monks at once place because of the rainy season. This period of temporary residence is known by the name of Chaturmasa and is considered to be the perfect time by the Janis for the purification of their souls by performing spiritual activities.
Unlike most other communities, the Jain festivals are not meant for eating, drinking or enjoying or getting entertained. This holds especially true for the Paryshana festival, which is believed to be a time when souls can be guided towards the path of salvation. The festival is also believed to relieve people of their sins and make them pious and full of virtues.
During the entire duration of the festival, Janis observe a fast and take part in various religious and spiritual activities that can help in enhancing mortality and spiritual powers and also increase the knowledge of individuals besides strengthening the bonds of relationships. At the end of the festival, it is customary for the devotees to seek forgiveness for their own violent acts or wrongdoings that they might committed in the past year.
It is common for the Jain devotees to read scriptures, offer prayers and even observe complete silence, under the guidance of the monks. The organization of religious and spiritual discourses is also quite common as they are believed to open the minds of the listeners and pave the way for a pious lifestyle.
One of the most important activities performed by Jain devotees during the ten day long Paryushana festival is performance of Pratikramana. It is form of worship where individuals take a stock of their spiritual life and reviving their faith in God. This period meditation is considered to be an integral aspect of the Paryushana festival. This is because the meditation and the festival share the same basic concept of self purification and revival making the two terms interchangeable.
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