Chaumasi Chaudas is highly popular festival among the community of Jains. The festival starts on the Ashadi Purnima (full moon day during June – July) and concludes on the Kartick Purnima (full moon day during October – November). The other name of this festival is Varsha Vaas.
The duration of Chaumasi Chaudas falls during the rainy season. The whole of the earth looks green during this time with abundant vegetation. The nature is at its best with a rich flora and fauna around. Jainism is a religion that emphasizes on strict non-violence (Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah) and therefore Jainism enjoins its followers not to travel around during this period so that the plants and animals are not harmed due to human movements. The sages and holy men of the religion would sit in one place and engage in religious activities, prayers and spiritual discussions. Thus, the four months of these celebrations are meant for worship, charities and auspicious activities and work for one’s spiritual development.
Enriched by the teachings of Lord Mahavir, Jainism guides its followers to develop a pure heart and sublime soul. The essence of this festival is to help every individual to work for the cleansing of his inner personality. People clean their houses and offices and procure new clothes. In order to propitiate for the misdeeds and earn some merits, they engage in donations and charities. The other range of activities that the Jains engage in during these four months includes the following:
- Observing fasting procedures and taking holy dips in sacred rivers.
- A life dedicated to meditation and spiritual learning for the Jain saints.
- The holy men of the communities avoid travelling anywhere over these months and keep praying for the welfare of all people.
- The observers of vrat eat only a single meal a day.
- Wealthy merchants and households that can afford invite Jain saints to their homes and listen to religious discourses.
During the period of Chaumasi Chaudas, a very important occasion known as Paryushana also occurs. This is one of the major festivals in Jainism that lays a great emphasis on the value of seeking forgiveness from others. The conclusion day of Paryushan is Kshamavani Diwas on which the Jains send each other greeting cards and messages forgiving each other for all the hurts they had caused intentionally or unintentionally. Most important thing to understand here is that Jainism advocates the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence) more than any other religion does and therefore expects its followers not to hurt others by thought, word and deed. Therefore the high ideals of Jainism are promoted among the followers through the festival and the associated events of Chaumasi Chaudas.
Chaumasi Chaudas also revolves around the cultural and social life of Jains. The duration of Chaumasi Chaudas encourages a host of cultural, religious and spiritual activities besides social gatherings, refreshing the relationships with others, promoting the values of sharing, caring and forgiveness. In this way, the multifaceted importance of this festival cannot be underestimated.
Category: Jain holidays
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