Holy Days, Festivals and Rituals
Fasting is the very imporatant part of the jains tradition.
Most Jains fast during holy days and festivals; some Jains choose fasting at other times in order to purify or to assist in their spiritual development. This ritual can vary from giving up food and drink entirely to only giving up favourite foods. Many Jains choose to fast when their death is approaching so that they may purify their thoughts in the preceding moments to their death.
- Mahavira Jayanti. Occurs around March/April. A celebration of the birth of Mahavira (the founder of Jainism). Celebrations include community worship, processions, and other devotional and spiritual activities.
- Paryushana. Occurs in August/September. Considered by some to be the most important festival in Jainism. All Jains are required to fast and the spiritual preceptors read out and explain in detail the Kalpasutra (sacred scripture). The first seven days of the festival are days of attainment, and the eighth and finally day is one of fulfilment and achievement.
- Diwali: Occurs in October/November. The whole night of Diwali should be spent in the recitation of holy hymns and mediation. Svetambara Jains believe that on the night of the day of Diwali in 537 B.C.E., Mahavira achieved Nirvan, or deliverance and attained to a state of absolute bliss. The day after Diwali marks the beginning of the New Year in their calendar.
- Kartak Purnima. Occurs in October/November. Thousands of Jains go on pilgrimages on this day to sacred Jain sites.
- Mauna Agyaras. Occurs around November/December. This is the day on which Jains fast and observes total silence. It is a day for meditation.