Paryushan, the festival of forgiveness, is an eight-day celebration observed by Jains around the world. The word Paryushan is formed of two parts; ‘Pary’ which means ‘to come together from all directions and ‘ushan’ which means ‘to stay near the real self – the Atma (soul).

Throughout the years, the human mind becomes cluttered with unnecessary pride, ego, fear, grudges and other mental burdens; we build so many karmas. Therefore, these eight-days are a time for reflection and introspection. One should aim to purify the soul by looking at their own faults and asking for forgiveness for the mistakes that they have committed.

During Paryushan, Jains pray and meditate, they also read Holy Scriptures, sing devotional songs and listen to discourses by Jain monks. Fasting is also an important part of Paryushan; it is a way to eliminate bad karma and help build discipline, self-control and patience.

The last day of Paryushan is called ‘Samvatsari’, it is the most important day of the festival as it gives us the opportunity to repent and forgive. On this day, Jains around the world ask for forgiveness from family, friends and foes alike for any wrongful acts they may have committed. They do this by greeting each other with the phrase ’Michami Dukkadam’ which means, ‘If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness’.

Paryushan is a festival which encourages people to forgive and forget, to let go of material desires and focus on oneself. In today’s fast paced world, where nobody seems to have time for their spiritual and mental well-being, the festival of Paryushan is the perfect way for Jains around the world to celebrate their religion while purifying their souls.

Even outside of India, hundreds of Jains come together during Paryushan and celebrate the festival with zeal and enthusiasm.

Khämemi Savve Jivä, Savve Jivä Khamantu Mi
Mitti Me Savva bhuesu, Veram majjham na Kenai.

I forgive all the living beings of the universe, and may all the living-beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.

Author: Sheena Shah,

University of Nottingham