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Saturday, 2nd December 2023



Release Date: 31st August 2010

One of the oldest living religions of the world, the Jain Dharma, has a strong presence in Britain. The best evidence of the energy and vibrancy of this tradition is in the celebration and practice of their most important festivals, Paryushan and Daslakshana. The Paryushan festival begins on 4th September 2010 and lasts eight days, ending on 11th September with the Universal Day of Forgiveness. The Daslakshana festival is for ten days starting on 12th September.

In all, there are approximately 35000 Jains living in Britain, and there are temples and community centres all over the UK - several in London, and centres in Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and where the community does not have a base, they hire a local school or community hall to celebrate.

The spirit of the festival is reflection - a time to take stock of actions and activities and repent for any misdeeds or violence. It is a time to purify the spirit, and fasting is common, with many fasting for the entire eight days, without any food. Every day, there are prayer gathering and lectures from learned people, many of whom come from India especially for this occassion. Lord Dholakia has explained that "the Jains are an important national barometer for peace in Britain and their presence in the country is critical to our diverse culture."

Dr. Peter Flugel, Director of the Centre for Jaina Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, commented: "It is extraordinary that this living tradition is so alive and vibrant in the UK, despite being so far from its homeland in India. Jains are very committed to keeping their culture alive."

Mr. Tushar Shah, President of the Oshwal Association of the UK, the largest Jain community body with nearly 25,000 members explained: "During Paryushan, people all over the UK make an effort to do something at least to connect to their heritage. At our branches in London, the energy is of deep introspection and reflection, and we can literally see a transformation happening among our members during this period. Fasting for eight days without any food whatsoever is not easy, yet over 100 accomplish this every year. This shows their discipline and determination."


Notes for Editors:

Jainism is an ancient tradition of non-violence, originating from India at least three thousand years ago. For more details, visit the BBC website which has a special section on Jainism. Diverse Ethics is a social enterprise which aims to improve cultural awareness globally.

To interview or speak to someone, please contact Dr. Atul Shah on 07804294903 or email him here.