Jain rituals and festivals
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Jain rituals and festivals play a prominent part in Jainism. Rituals can take place daily or more often, while festivals occur on designated days of the year. Rituals include obligations followed by Jains and various forms of idol worships. Festivals are either related to life events of Tirthankara or they are performed with intention of purification of soul.
Jains rituals can be divided broadly in two parts: Karya (Obligations which are followed) and Kriya (Worships which are performed).
Six essential duties
- Samyika : practising serenity and meditation
- Chaturvishnati-stava : praising Tirthankaras
- Vandan : respecting teachers and ascetics
- Pratikramana : expiation of past sins
- Kayotsarga : meditation
- Pratyakhyana (renunciation of anything)
Samayika was used as a word for all spiritual activity including icon worship during medieval times.
- Devapuja: worship of Tirthankaras
- Guru-upashti: respecting teachers and ascetics
- Swadhyaya: studying spiritual texts
- Sanyam: controlling self by following different rules
- Tapa: austerities
- Dana: charity
These duties became fundamental ritual activities of Jains. Such as spreading the grain for the birds in the morning, and filtering or boiling the water for the next few hours' use became ritual acts of charity and non-violence.
Samayika is the practice of equanimity, translating to meditation. It is a ritual act undertaken early in the morning and perhaps also at noon and night. It lasts for forty-eight minutes (Two Ghadis) and usually involves not only quiet recollection but also usually the repetition of routine prayers. The ritual is chanting and praying about the good things.
Pratikramana is performed in the morning for the repentance of violence committed during the night, and in the evening for the violence during the day and additionally on certain days of the year. During this, the Jain expresses remorse for the harm caused, or wrongdoing, or the duties left undone.
Annual and lifetime obligations
There are eleven annual obligations for a year and some obligations for once in a life which should be completed by Jain lay person individually or in a group. They are prescribed by Shravak Pragyapti.
11 annual obligations
They are following:
- Sangha-puja: service to Sangha
- Sadharmik Bhakti: Deep respect to fellow follower of Jainism
- Yatratnika or Yatratrik : Participation in religious festivals and pilgrimage to three sites
- Snatra puja : a ritual related to Janma Kalyanaka
- Deva dravya : Fundraising for temples
- Mahapuja : Elaborate ritual in which temples and icons decorated and sacred texts recited
- Ratri-jagarana : singing hymns and religious observance throughout night
- Sutra-puja : veneration of scriptures
- Udyapana : displaying objects of worship and participant at end of religious activities
- Tirth prabhavana : promotion of Jainism by celebrating important occasions
- Shuddhi : confession of faults
Obligations performed atleast once in a lifetime
They are following:
- Build a temple
- Donate a Tirthankara icon to temple
- Participate in Panch-kalyanak Pratishtha
- Celebrating renunciation of a family member
Devapuja means worship of Thirthankaras. It is done in front of icons of any liberated souls such as Tirthankara, Siddha or Arihant. There are no reference of idol worship in canonical texts. Sthanakavasi there for opposed idol worship. They believe in meditation and silent prayers.
Jain idols have no miraculous powers, daily rituals help the worshipper towards a reverent state of mind. They are seen as a personification of ideal state which one should attain.
Elaborate forms of ritual usually done in the temple. Jains wear clean three clothes for many rituals and enter temple with words related to respect for Tirthankara. He bows down to Tirthankara at main shrine and will circumambulate him three times.
Main ritual can be devided in two parts:
- Dravya puja (worship with materials)
- Bhava puja (Psychic worship, no need of materials)
|Puja||Material used||Ritual||For attainment of|
|Jala||Water||Abhisheka of icon of Tirthankara performed by mix of milk, ghee, yogurt, honey and water followed by only water||Cleanliness|
|Chandana||Sandalwood||Sandalwood paste used applied to an icon||Purity|
|Pushpa||Flowers||Placed on icon||Freedom from passions|
|Dhupa||Incense stick||Placed in front of an icon in specific manner||Great Fame|
Bhava puja(means Psychic worship) is done by ritual called Chaitya Vandana. It includes number of prayers and rituals done in prescibed manner and positions.
Aarti and Mangal Deevo
Many other forms of worships are mainly performed on special occasions. Some forms of worships have close relationship with these five auspicious life events of Tirthankara called Panch Kalyanaka.
- Panch Kalyanak Pratishtha Mahotsava: When a new Jain Temple is erected, these Five Auspicious Life Events are celebrated known as Panch Kalyanak Pratishtha Mahotsava. After these an icons of Tirthankara gets a status of real Tirthankara which can be worshipped by Jains.
- Panch Kalyanak Puja:This ritual solemnizes all five Kalyanaka. It was narrated by Pandit Virvijay.
- Snatra Puja: Snatra Puja is a ritual related to birth of Tirthankara are bathed symbolising Indra doing Abhisheka on Tirthankara on Mount Meru after birth of Tirthankara. It performed before many other rituals and before starting of new enterpises, birthdays.
- Anjana Shalaka: It is a ceremony to install new Tirthankara icon. An Acharya recite mantras related to Panch Kalyanaka followed by applying special paste to eyes of Tirthankara icon. After this an icon becomes object of worship.
- Shanti Snatra Puja: It is performed in intention of universal peace. It is related to Tirthankara Shantinath.
- Antaraya Karma Puja: It comprises a series of prayers to remove those karmas which obstruct the spiritual uplifting power of the soul.
- Arihanta Mahapujan: paying respect to the arihants.
- Siddha-chakra Puja:It is a ritual focused on the Siddha-chakra, a lotus-shaped disc bearing representations of the arhat, the liberated soul, religious teacher, religious leader and the monk (the five praiseworthy beings), as well as the four qualities namely perception, knowledge, conduct and austerity to uplift the soul.
- Aththai Mahotsava: It is religious celebration in which various religious activities are performed including some pujans for eight days.
- Adhara Abhisheka(18 Abhisheka: It is temple purification ceremony. 18 urns of different pure water, herbs etc. used to clean all icons for purification. It is performed periodically.
Paryushana Parva is one of the most important festival for Jains. Paryusana is formed by two words meaning ‘a year’ and ‘a coming back’. This festival comes in the months of Shravana and Bhadra (August or September). Svetambara Jains celebrate it for eight-days while Digambara Jains celebrate it for ten days. So it is also known as Das Lakshana Parva. It is a festival of repentance and forgiveness. Many Jains fast and carry out different religious activities. Jain monks stop walking during chaturmas and reside at one place where they lecture on various religious subjects during paryushana. This festival is believed to remove accumulated karma of the previous year and develop control over new accumulating new karma, by following Jain austerities and other rituals. There are regular rituals at the temple. Discourses of Kalpa Sutra are given by monks. Kalpa Sutradescribes life of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras. On the third day, procession of Kalpa Sutra is carried out. On the fifth day, auspicious dreams of Trishala, mother of Mahavira are demonstrated and after that birth of Mahavira is celebrated. On the final day, Jains ask for forgiveness from everybody for any acts during the previous year which may had hurt them.
Mahavira was born on the thirteenth day of the bright half of the Jain calendar month of Chaitra, probably 599 BCE. It falls in March or April. This festival marks birth of Mahavira. Procession is carried out and lectures on message of Mahavira is presented. The idols of Mahavira is ceremonially bathed and rocked in a cradle. Events related to birth are also recited from sacred texts by monks.
Diwali is one of the most important festival in India. Mahavir attained nirvana followed by moksha on this day in 527 BCE. It falls on the last day of Ashvina month of Jain calendar. It is also the last day of Indian calendar. It comes during October or November. It is believed that the eighteen kings of northern India, followers of Mahavira, decided to light lamps (known as dipa) symbolizing knowledge of Mahavira. So it is known as Dipawali or Diwali.
After celebrating Diwali at the end of Ashwina, Jains celebrate new year on the first day of the following month of Kartika. Ritual of Snatra Puja is performed at the temple. Mahavira's chief disciple Gautama Swami attained keval gyan on this day. 
The fifth day of Kartika is known as Gyana Panchami. It is considered knowledge day. On this day holy scriptures are displayed and worshipped.
It is celebrated on 10th day of dark half of Pausha (Pushya) month of Hindu calendar(December/January). It marks Janma Kalyanaka (Birth) of 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath. Three days fast known as Attham is observed by many Jains.
Varshi Tapa or Akshay Tritiya Tapa
It is believed that the first Jain Tirthankara Rishabhdev completed of an austerity on 3rd day of the bright fortnight of Vaishakh month of Jain calendar after fasting for 13 months and 13 days continuously. People who performed austerity known as Varshi tapa regarding these event complete the austerity on this day by taking sugar-cane juice. 
Maun Agiyaras or Ekadashi marks Kalyanaka of many Tirthankaras. It is celebrated on 11th day of Magshar month of Jain calendar(October/November). On this day, complete silence is observed and fasting is kept. Meditation is also performed.
The nine-day Oli is a period of semi-fasting. During these period Jains take only one meal a day of very plain food. It comes twice a year during March/April and September/October.
Mahamastakabhisheka is a festival held once every twelve years in the town of Shravanabelagola, Karnataka. It is held in veneration of an immense 18 meter high statue of Bahubali. The last anointing took place in February 2006, and the next ceremony will occur in 2018.
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- Correspondent, TNN (February 8, 2006). "Mahamastakabhisheka of Bahubali begins today". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
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