SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: The 8-day festival of Paryushana has come to an end for most Shvetambar Jains this weekend, and that means their holiest day falls this weekend, too: Samvatsari. (Get the American perspective at JAINA, an American Jain federation.)
Each year at the end of Paryushana, most Jains spend a full day fasting and in deep reflection, focusing on wrongdoings of the past year and praying for strength for the coming year. (Wikipedia has details.) Nonviolence is of primary importance in the Jain faith, too, and because Jains try not to harm any living element, Samvatsari is set aside to grant and receive forgiveness. (Digambar Jains begin their 10-day purification festival, called Das Lakshan, at the end of Paryushana.)
Traditionally, Jains ask forgiveness from those they know they have hurt by saying, “Micchami Dukkadam,” which translates into “May all the ill I have done to you be forgiven.” Of equal importance on Samvatsai are the prayers for forgiveness from those Jains unknowingly hurt, including plants, animals and even insects.
Even if you’re not a Jain, try spending some time this weekend thinking of those you may be quarreling with. Jain tradition has it that no dispute may be carried out beyond Samvatsari—and wouldn’t all of our lives be a little bit better if we obeyed this type of principle?