Paryushan Parva also called the Dash Lakshan Parva is the monarch or the king of all Jain festivals and is celebrated annually in the auspicious month Bhadrapad of the Hindu calendar. It is also known as Maha Parva or Parva Raj .The festival extends from the fifth day to fourteenth day of the bright fortnight. Shvetambara Jains refer it as Paryushana while Digambara Jains refer to it as Daslakshana. For Shwetambaras it is an 8-day festival which ends on Bhadrapada Shukla panchami. And the fifth day is the main day of their celebrations called the ‘Samvatsari Parva. For Digambaras it is a 10-day period festival starting from the fifth day to the fourteenth day.
It is the festival of purification of souls. The purpose of Paryushan is to stay close to your soul and reflect on your shortcomings. It is a festival to seek forgiveness for wrongdoings and an attempt to remove internal corruption and to vow to minimise mistakes. It is also a festival to suppress all our passions like – anger, ego, deceit and greed from all directions. It is a festival of endurance, meditation and sacrifice and it aims at the attainment of salvation. This festival is a means to get rid of the worldly allurements and get deeply involved in the eternal truth. Overall Paryushana is to purify the soul by staying closer to it and suppressing negative thought which may be either word or deed.
Paryushan Parva History
Paryushana falls during the rainy season. During this season the monks are unable to travel and settle in one place. So the householders could renew their faith by listening to the monks recite verses from the Holy Scriptures. There is also references that Lord Mahavir started Paryushana on Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami.
How is Paryushan Parva Celebrated?
The most important part of Paryushan is daily meditation and prayer. During this period fasting and study of Holy Scriptures is performed. Shwetambara Jains celebrate an 8-day festival. Starting from the fourth day it is customary for the Shvetambars to read the Kalpa Sutra the Holy Scripture which recounts the life of lord Mahavir. The book recounts the fourteen dreams of Mahavir’s mother before his birth, followed by the story of his birth and his life as well as his liberation. Final day of Paryushan is Samvastsari Pratikraman or annual confession. It is the time for confession and seeking forgiveness for all wrongdoings they may have imposed during the previous year. They also forgive all creatures for their wrong deeds.
Digambara Jains observe Paryushana over 10 days. During this period The Tatvartha-sutra of Umaswati is recited. Digambaras also take a vow to practice the 10 supreme virtues of the soul.