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Sunday, 3rd December 2023


The finale - the final day of Paryushan, Samvatsari, the day of Universal Forgiveness


Anger crowds the soul. It makes us feel bitter and frustrated, and eats us from the inside. Forgiveness, on the other hand, cleanses the soul and releases us from bondage into freedom. This is the opportunity, the reason why Paryushan has been and continues to be the central festival for the Jains. It is a triumph of humility over ego, a sacrifice for inner bliss and contentment. My father and I started the morning with a trip to the beautiful Jain temple in Potters Bar, North London, pictured above. And we performed an intimate pooja of the Tirthankaras, including prayers, and a rice symbolic painting. It was a very peaceful experience, and a lovely start to the day.

We then returned home and I had a rest, after which we prepared for the final 3 hour Pratikramana, the prayer that will cleanse all the transgressions in the past year. There were about 1000 people sitting in silent meditation, and it was an awesome sight in itself. The level of detail in the prayer, and the open admissions of faults and misdemeanours and violences we may have committed in the past year, really reminded us how much pain we can, knowingly or unknowingly, inflict on others as part of our daily lives. And we must repent. Next to me was a young man, about twenty years old, dressed in modern western clothes, but every time the call came to ask for forgiveness, he repeated it three times. There was a genuine spirit of remorse in him. He clearly understood the spirt of the prayer and festival.

After the prayers, there is a chance to meet and greet the community, by saying 'Michami Dukudam' - if I hurt you knowingly or unknowingly, I request your forgiveness. This binds people and cleanses their relationships. Oh what joy, what fortune I have to have inherited this ocean of wisdom, and to be able to learn it and share it with others.

Oh yes, the fast. Well, it was the last day, so whilst there was weakness, there was also a sense of achievement - nearly there. Preparations at home had started for the invitations to the fast-breaking ceremony the next day, and that was exciting. I was looking forward to the sense of taste - drinking water alone gets boring after a while, and it is nice to taste some different liquids. More on the fast breaking in the next blog. Follow me.

Dr. Atul K. Shah

Article added on 13th September 2010 at 7:37am
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