Jain Festivals Celebrated
Jainism a religion started around the same time as Buddhism sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. Today, there are about 5 million Jains, however this estimate may be wrong as many jains may be counted as Hindus in the census figures. The Jain ethos abhors violence in any form and stresses on love towards all living beings. There are two broad sects names Shwethambara “white clad’ and Digambara ‘Sky clad’ within the Jain religion.
The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul. This is achieved by following the Jain ethical code, of living rightly by following the three jewels of Jain ethics. These are ‘right faith’, ‘right knowledge’ and ‘right conduct’.
Followers of Jainism take the following five main vows: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (not lying), Asteya or Achaurya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-materialism). Jain festivals are either related to life events of Tirthankara or they are performed with intention of purification of soul. Jains rituals can be separated broadly in two parts: Karya (Obligations which are followed) and Kriya (Worships which are performed).
Some of the main Jain festivals celebrated are listed below.
The anniversary of the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira. The festival attracts pilgrims from all parts of the country to the ancient Jain shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat.
The ‘Paryushan Parva’ celebrated annually for self-purification and uplift is meant to adhere to the ten universal virtues in practical life; and leads us on the right path, far from the mad strife for material prosperity, which ultimately leads us to our true destination i.e., salvation.
Mahamasthakabhisheka is very famous and popular festival that is performed once in 12 years. The word Mahamastakabhisheka is a combination of three words Maha meaning great or excellent, Masthaka means head and Abhisheka meaning anointing or coronation.
Lord Mahavira attained nirvana followed by moksha on Deepavalli or Diwali day in 527 BC. The day falls on the last day of Ashvina month of Jain calendar which usually comes during the months of October or November.