Sunday, September 1, 2013
It is that time of the year again. It is Pajushan (Paryushan or Das Lakshana). An annual Jain festival. In fact the biggest most auspicious festival for Jains. But it is unlike any other auspicious festival celebrated in our times.
There are no firecrackers. No elaborate meals. No new clothes. No gifts. No loud music. No dancing on the streets. It stands out like a black sheep in the family of world festivals.
Just like all Jain core beliefs that are different and out of the ordinary, so is this festival. It is probably the only festival that celebrates the simplicity of life by keeping things extremely ordinary during the eight to ten days it lasts for.
Here is why I love this time of the year:
It is time to renew ourselves. Forget the past. Clean the slate. And revive our spirit. After the brunt of worldly pleasures it bears over the year, it needs a break!
Walking barefoot gives us a sense of belonging and oneness with nature and surroundings. We feel a sense of responsibility for the earth we live on and it is a great reminder of one life's truths - that small things in life make a big difference! And that we should be thankful for all life has to offer us.
No television. No music. No unwanted entertainment. We've got the rest of the year for all that and all other material pleasures. For these eight days are all about the simple life. This gives us ample time to reflect on everything around us. Reflect about us. Rethink where life is heading. What our purpose is. What went ahead as planned and what didn't. What mistakes were committed and what great deeds achieved. It is a whole lot of me-time and I love it!
Fasting and eating before sunset has such a profound effect on the body it gives us a new lease of life! Our body is a machine and it needs a break from all the wear and tear it goes through on a daily basis. There is a more profound reason for fasting and giving up material pleasures, which is experiencing self restrain and being aware, more aware, by depriving yourself of life's pleasures. But for me the best part about giving up late night snacks and junk food and maintaining a strict Jain diet is that the body feels fresh and light! Lots of water, lentils, grains and pulses and sleeping early works like magic for our mind, body and soul.
The last day culminates with a three hour prayer session and is a great way to experience the joys of meditating. Helps us take more control of our thoughts and channelise our energy in the right direction. The peace and calm accompanied by chants that are hundreds of thousands of years old are a firebrand combination and the best routine for mind-gymming.
The mystical rituals, decorating idols with flowers and saffron, bathing them in milk, to the gong of bells, and songs of yore, at the break of dawn, with stories from the past, and powerful characters - these are the kind of things most wonderful fairytales are made of! The best part is, this festival allows us to be a part of them.
It is time to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Time to crush that ego-mountain that has built up over the year and act selfless. To realise that life is equal for all, single celled organisms to multicellular humans like us. To accept that over the course of our life we have caused some harm, unknowingly and knowingly, by our actions and thought, and that we must take a moment to remember all that we can and ask for forgiveness. This act of asking for forgiveness keeps me grounded and when forgiven it rids you of all the baggage one's carried along. So here I say it...