Below, I have attached a link to the 2015 calendar of the Jainism religious year.

Click to access Jain%20Calendar%202015.pdf

The Jain calendar is a lunisolar calendar, based on the position of the moon with respect to Earth, and has the following arrangement: A normal year has 12 months and either lasts for 353, 354, 0r 355 days, while a leap year has 13 months and either lasts for 383, 384, or 385 days. A year has its own characteristics, falling into two distinct parts – the rainy season and the rest of the year. The significance of the rainy season lies in the amount of discussion in Jain sacred writings devoted to this four-month period.

The dates of Jain festivals are calculated using the traditional lunar calendar. They are often celebrated through pilgrimage and last for several days. There are many Jain holy sites, often vast complexes of temples and shrines, to which pilgrims travel regularly. The cycle of festivals and pilgrimages is linked to significant events in the lives of the Tirthankaras. Major sites include Sameta Sikhara, Pavapira, and Mount Girnar, at all of which a Tirthankara achieved enlightenment. The birth and enlightenment dates of Mahavira are particularly celebrated. These take place in Caitra (March/April) and Kartik (October/November) respectively.

Other major holidays include: Mahavira Jayanti, Diwali, Akshaya Tritiya, and Samvatsari. Mahavira Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavira, as Jains gather in temples to hear the great Tirthankara’s teachings, and later, parade through the streets to celebrate his life and legacy. Diwali is India’s annual festival of lights, celebrated throughout the country. To Jains, the holiday marks the day that Mahavira achieved nirvana, marking the day of the business new year, where old accounts are settled, and new ones are opened. Hymns, fasting, and meditations are common ways to celebrate. Akshaya Tritiya is a day dedicated to fasting and pilgrimage to sacred sites associated with Jain religion. The ritual is meant to honor the first Thirthankara, Rsabhanatha, who broke a fast with sugar cane juice received from Prince Sreyamskumar. Lastly, Samvatsari is the holiest day of the year for Jains, commonly known as the Festival of Forgiveness. It is mostly celebrated by the Digambara sect as the last day of the festival of Paryushan.


Jain pilgrims make their way to temple

Holiday Profile: Paryushanan 

The most significant holiday in Jainism is Paryushanan, an eight-day festival of fasts, confession, spiritual awareness, and purification celebrated during the month of Bhadrapad (August/September). During Paryushanan, all Jains fast to at least the final day, but many fast longer- for the entire duration of the festival. Practitioners ask for forgiveness from friends and relatives for their wrongdoings, in order to achieve Samvatsarik Pratikraman, or spiritual atonement. Forgiveness requires humility and suppression of anger; a common aphorism used to ask for forgiveness is:

Khamemi savva jive,
Savve jiva khamantu me
Mitti me savva bhooesu,
Veram majjha na kenai.

I grant forgiveness to all living beings,
May all living beings grant me forgiveness;
My friendship is with all living beings,
My enmity is non-existent.
Let there be peace, harmony, and prosperity for all.

The festival also emphasizes ahimsa, reading of the scriptures, an increased focus on salvation, animal life, and symbolic cleansing. During the festival, the Kalpa Sutra, a scripture that recounts Mahavira’s life, from his birth to his liberation, is recited. The text also tells the lives of other Jain Tirthankaras and highlights the rules of Paryushanan. Jains gather in the temple for worship to hear these holy doctrines. They often take time off from daily chores and eat a simpler diet. They add to their normal vegetarian restrictions by avoiding such foods as potatoes, onions, and garlic and to avoid eating anything that kills an entire plant as opposed to just taking its fruit. As previously mentioned, many Jains fast during all of Paryushanan, and some even uptake the practice of monk-hood for a day or more while fasting. A few requirements for the celebration include: control food intake, read spiritual books, observe 1 hour of silence, use kind words, meditate for 20 minute minimum, control anger, and send friendly vibrations to everyone you encounter. By following these guidelines, those who celebrate Paryushanan may achieve deep spiritual awakening by purifying their emotions and consciousness. The holiday is a time to renew and fill the aspects of their lives and qualities of their beings that are lacking. The conclusion of the festival results in a powerful transformation of the heart and mind, leading to fuller union with one’s soul and path to enlightenment.


Jains gather in a temple for worship during Paryushanan festival


Typical array of food served during Paryushanan festival; all foods derived from plants that do not harm them in the process of extraction

Photo Citations:

Jain Pilgrims. Photograph.

Jains in Temple. Photograph.

Paryushanan Food. Photograph.

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