The holiest of Jain festivals, the 8-day Paryushana and the 10-day Das Lakshana festivals of forgiveness, falls in August or September in Indian lunar month of Bhadra, and during the four-month monsoon season. This is the time when Jain sadhus (monks/nuns) are in one place due to the rains, and the laity in the traditional agricultural economies, are also freer.
The word 'Paryushana' means 'to come together', which signifies a time of reflection and repentance for the Jain devotee through fasting, meditation, prayers of repentance, bhakti and listening to monks giving teachings (sermons) from the Jain scriptures. Originally this was primarily a time for the laity to engage in monastic like practice, seeking deeper experiences of his/her soul.
This year for the 65,000 strong UK Jain community, COVID has changed the practice of Paryushana and Das Lakshana. Social distancing has limited visits and activities at temples and community halls. Most have celebrated the festival at home.
The 32 UK Jain organisations are united under the ‘OneJAIN’, which is managed by the Institute of Jainology. During the annual OneJAIN conference, which this year was held online on Zoom for the first time, it was agreed that in order to ensure the Jain community had a full day of spiritual activities, OneJAIN organisations would publish details of their online programs on the www.jainology.org site. This has been hugely successful, and many devotees have benefitted from participating in activities from several organisations.
In addition, this initiative would be launched through a global OneJAIN Paryushana and Das Lakshana event featuring prominent Acharyas from all 4 sects of Jainsim, the UK and Indian Prime Ministers, heads of other faiths such as BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the Vatican.
This event was unprecedented, and showed how in times of crises, the global Jain community can come together. So far, there have been approx. 25,000 views of this event globally(available on www.Jainology.org).
To end Paryushana, Jains wish each other, and everyone else with a ‘Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ’, an ancient Indian Prakrit language phrase, found in historic Jain texts literally meaning "may all the evil that has been done be in vain".