Posts Tagged ‘Jainism’

Holy Daze: Diwali (November 13th, 2012) – Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism

November 12th, 2012 No comments

Diwali Celebrations

Diwali, popularly known as the “Festival of Lights” is an important festival in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism.  All three traditions share this sacred day, however, the significance and meaning of the day differs.  I think many of you will also note some striking similarities around the spiritual metaphors between this revered Eastern holiday with one of similar reverence in the West.

For Hindus, Diwali is similar to Christmas for Christians.  It is the most important holiday and is celebrated with colourful displays of light.  It is also a time to rejoice with family and friends.  Central to Hindu philosophy is an awareness of the inner light (Atman) and the light of higher knowledge (Brahman).  In essence, Diwali celebrates triumph of good over evil or light (knowledge) over dark (ignorance).  For several days Hindus may celebrate Diwali with various traditions including fireworks, worship, colourful sand and light displays, the sharing of sweets, cleaning out of homes/businesses, gambling, the purchasing of new clothes, and the exchanging of gifts.

Jains mark Diwali as their New Year’s Eve.  Similar to Hindu belief, Jains believe in an inner light or awareness.  They celebrate in remembrance of the day in 527 BCE that Lord Mahavir, an Indian sage believed to have established the central tenets of Jainism, reached Nirvana.  Jains also incorporate light into their celebrations, particularly as a reminder of the absence of the light of Lord Mahavir.

Similarly, Sikhs mark Diwali as a day of remembrance.  It is considered the day in 1619 when the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, was released from prison along with 52 Hindu kings, whom he had a part in freeing.  He became known as “Bandi Chhor” (deliverer from prison).  Upon the Guru’s return, the Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps in celebration.  Every year since, Sikh commemorate Diwali to pay homage to the Guru and religious freedom.

Diwali is an extremely important holiday and as such I can’t do it justice in this short blog post.  National Geographic has a fantastic, three minute clip that highlights some Diwali celebrations.  Check it out!

M. xo

Diwali – Festival of Lights



Holy Daze: Paryushana Parva (Throughout Sept 2012) – Jainism

September 19th, 2012 No comments

Paryushana is considered one of the most important and sacred festivals of the Indian religious tradition, Jainism. Now, if you’re not familiar with the Jains, and you happen to be interested in subjects like this, I highly recommend doing some reading on this very interesting sacred path. In all my studies, I’ve found the Jains to be one of the most fascinating of traditions. The core of their beliefs is one of a path of non-violence (ahimsa) toward all living beings (and when they say all living beings, they literally mean it).

Back to the matter at hand – Paryushana, (meaning “coming together”) is a time for heightening awareness of both the physical and spiritual aspects of the self. One of the central ritual observances is fasting, which depending on the Jain’s devotion and strength, can last anywhere from one day to one month, and can include abstaining completely from food or taking only one meal a day. Fasting is believed to help purify the soul by discovering one’s faults and seeking forgiveness for transgressions. It is also a time to take stock of how one’s actions have affected all living beings.

Other rituals can include the reading of scriptures, and observing vows of silence. Periodic meditation may also be carried out (different paths within the Jain tradition, observe different rituals at different times – it’s a bit confusing, so stay with me). It’s also important to point out that the laity and monastics will engage to different degrees in these rituals.

The culmination of this festival is to ask forgiveness for any wrongdoings that one may have intentionally or unintentionally committed upon another living being (and for some Jains this includes the microscopic organisms that are naked to the human eye – I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned all living beings). Jains express to one another, “Micchami Dukkadam” (If I have caused you offence or wrongdoing, intentional or unintentional, by thought word or deed, I ask your forgiveness).

There’s much more to this festival than what I could possibly provide in this post, so check out the short video below showcasing some upbeat celebrations during Paryushana Parva. I’ve also included a short animated informational video about Jainism. The animation leaves much to be desired, but it does an adequate job of providing you with a primer of the Jain tradition.

A final important note: The swastika, while considered a symbol of evil and persecution for many in the West, is a very sacred symbol for the Jains. So, please refrain from sending me comments about the inclusion of this symbol in my post.

I hope to post more about the fascinating sacred path of the Jains in the future!

Cheers! M. xo

Paryushan Parva 2011 – Bhavya Aarti:


Image Source: Wikipedia

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