Paryushan Dos and Don’ts

Paryushan, the 8-day festival for Jains, started today. I’ve blogged about Paryushan before (Micchami Dukkadam; Paryushan; What to Eat for Paryushan Week).

To me, Jainism is a lifestyle more than a religion. The five main concepts I associate with Jainism are Forgiveness, Contentment, Non-violence, Truthfulness, and Centeredness (detachment or self-control). Needless to say, it is best to follow these all year round. These eight days are set aside for us to go inward and take some rest from the material world we are surrounded by.

Some of the observances for Paryushan in my family are:

  1. Food restrictions. No green vegetables, and of course no potatoes, onions, or garlic, since these are root vegetables. Eat before sunset. Lot of families have variations on the diet they follow. Some families do not eat paneer or fermented food; some don’t eat tomatoes. Consult with the adults in your family for the specific restrictions followed.
  2. Going inward. We do pratikraman in the evenings. If you don’t know pratikraman, I would suggest meditation.
  3. No TV, no radio. Parents would recommend this so that the senses are not outward. Give rest to all your senses (smell, sound, sight, touch). For today’s generation, I’ll need to add: no YouTube. 🙂
  4. No harm by your words, thoughts, or actions. Speak gently; don’t curse. Do not kill insects, escort them out gently.
  5. Listen to knowledge. Immerse yourself in learning about the higher self, and the purpose of life.

Fasting is a big part of Paryushan. In my family we have done fasting some years. When I was a teenager, I have done atthai, an 8-day fast, and a few years ago, a 3-day fast.

Hope folks who are married to Jains and are looking to join in their spouse’s observances (or those who are looking to learn) find this helpful.

We are a Sthanakvasi Jain family. Each family is different; some are strict in their observances, some are not. If you are a Jain, your practices may be slightly different. What do you do in your family special for Paryushan? Please leave a comment below and share.

If there’s anything else you’d like me to write about regarding Paryushan, let me know.

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2 Responses to Paryushan Dos and Don’ts

  1. Priya says:

    I landed up on your blog page while looking for recipes for this year’s Paryushan, and what a surprise I get!
    I am a proud Palakkad Iyer too, married to a Marwari Sthanakvasi Jain. Boy! Coming from a nuclear, broad minded and educated family I had a tough time adjusting to their culture esp their joint family system.
    Agree with your observations on Paryushan and how it can be followed in this time & age. I have seen Jains around me & in the family being so deeply religious. We are in our early thirties and our friends are appearing for Jainology exams et al. I do not see this in our Hindu families at all. For most, its only about visiting temples. It has never gone beyond it, the spiritual side of our dharma where there are vrithams to be followed on certain days of the month and many more. Most in our generations dont even know the epics.
    Only after marriage I realised the need to learn more about Sanathana Dharma.
    We have a 4 mth old boy and we hope to show him the best of both the religions.

  2. Sam says:

    I’m not Jain, but my grandfather was. He chose the religion late in life, therefore none of his daughters, grew up around it. When he passed away, my mom (his daughter) took up doing the fast for him. I’m not sure why, but I think she did it because it made her feel closer to him.

    This year, my mom’s health has taken a bit of a nose dive so I decided to take up Paryushan for her and my grandfather. She feels connected to it because she prepares my food according to whatever rules there are. I am personally not sure what the specific rules are but that’s what brought me here. I’d like to discover for myself what it is that I am doing and why. I suppose the most important part for me is that I too feel closer to my family, both living and deceased. My mom doesn’t ask a lot of me and she didn’t ask this. I offered it, and I know she is delighted.

    The transition hasn’t really been that difficult because I am already vegetarian. Now I just cut out the onions, garlic, potatoes, and greenery. So far, I’ve eaten only homemade food such as corn tortillas and mung beans shaak. My mom plans to make lentils, black eye peas, and things like that for some variety in the days to come. It’s only a short time and I think it would mean a lot to her and my aunt who is Agas which is really similar to Jainism. I’ll probably ask her what the rules are too after doing my own research.

    So… for me personally the tradition and it’s contemplative component will be about honoring my family and in doing so, I feel good about myself, helping others, exercising self control, and a spiritual, physical, and emotional cleansing. Like you, for me, Jainism is more about lifestyle rather than religion. We have to do a little bit better everyday. My dharma is making others happy and if doing this small thing would bring joy to them, and make me a more self aware person, I think I’ve fulfilled my goal.

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